Centre-periphery tensions in legal theory and practice: can law and lawyers resist urban imperialism?

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Kim Economides


This paper questions some basic assumptions of legal theory, education and practice from the perspective of rural, remote and regional (RRR) legal communities beyond the metropolis. Legal ideologies and values fundamental to the legitimacy of the modern state, such as the Rule of Law, are embedded in most law curricula and reinforced at every stage of the educational continuum, and commonly assert that law, legal rights and access to courts of law apply equally regardless of physical location or social status. Despite this, indigenous and other excluded groups living in peripheral communities frequently experience law differently from their urban counterparts, as do legal professionals living and working outside the city.

The key issue examined concerns how centre-periphery tension should best be managed in the future regulation of law and lawyers. What kind of policies and strategies may genuinely assist social inclusion and to what extent should law and legal practice accommodate diversity? How and to what extent should lawyers and para-legals represent the interests of communities rather than private individuals in RRR areas of Australia? What kind of training and technological support do they require? The paper aims to set out some choices that confront policymakers while drawing upon international experience that may offer some guidance.

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Author Biography

Kim Economides, Flinders University

Professor of Law, Dean, Flinders Law School