AS a Legal Aid lawyer based in Lismore, Rachael Thomas's role in the community is an important one.
Originally from Woolgoolga, Ms Thomas began her career at Southern Cross University where she completed a dual degree in legal and justice studies and law.
Before graduating in 2005 Ms Thomas had already started working for a local law firm while completing some subjects externally.
Ms Thomas said studying at SCU had given her relevant practical experience in her chosen field.
"I felt that at SCU we were pulling into nearly every subject the practical side of law as well," she said.
After a year of working as a legal executive in Ireland, Ms Thomas returned to the Northern Rivers in 2008 and began working for Legal Aid.
She said working in regional areas like the Northern Rivers provided more diversity of experience than some metropolitan offices.
"I think when you first start out you're just thrown in so you kind of sink or swim in rural areas and you just go in and start working straight away," she said.