AGLS Board responsibilities
About the AGLS
The AGLS will be an overarching professional network for government lawyers, consistent with the ‘professions model’ recommendation in the Final Report of the Independent Review of the APS Our Public Service, Our Future.
Establishing AGLS also implements recommendation 1 of the Secretary’s Review of Commonwealth Legal Services (the Secretary’s Review). The Secretary’s Review recommended linking government lawyers through automatic inclusion in the AGLS. This would facilitate information sharing, collaboration, guidance and professional development.
The AGLS will be a centralised formal professional network of government lawyers to improve legal risk management and create a more consistent approach to legal issues. The AGLS will emphasise the role of government lawyers within the context of whole-of-government legal obligations.
All government lawyers (including from the Australian Government Solicitor) will automatically be included in the AGLS. This will connect more than 2,000 Commonwealth government lawyers working in over 90 entities across Australia. AGLS members will remain employees of their entity, but their membership will be a core part of their professional identity.
The AGLS will build on the work of the Australian Government Legal Network (AGLN), its board and committees. The Office of Legal Services Coordination within the Attorney‑General’s Department provides secretariat services to the AGLS Board.
AGLS Board member responsibilities
Board members are experienced senior lawyers representing a diverse range of agencies. They are responsible for delivering the board’s objectives, including through determining the priorities and strategic direction of the AGLS and developing the AGLS Strategic Plan.
The current AGLS Board Terms of Reference are available on the Terms of reference page.
Board members will attend 6 board meetings in the first 12 months after the AGLS is established, and at least 4 board meetings per year after that. Meetings will be up to 2 hours long.
In line with the terms of reference, board members are responsible for taking on ‘sponsorship’ roles for one or more of the AGLS committees. Meetings will generally occur in Canberra, but AGLS Board members are geographically diverse, so teleconference and audio-visual conference facilities are available.
The Attorney-General’s Department, in partnership with General Counsel/heads of legal from across the Commonwealth, is also progressing key AGLS initiatives arising from the Secretary’s Review. The board will be responsible for supporting this work, as well as overseeing the work of AGLS committees in accordance with the AGLS Strategic Plan, to be developed by the board.
Now that the AGLS is in place, the work previously being done by the AGLN Board and its committees will continue, with adjustments made to the governance arrangements. There will be no stops and starts and we are all working towards a seamless transition.
Some of the work underway includes:
- AGLS Newsletter – formerly the AGLN Newsletter. The AGLS Engagement and Communication Committee creates and publishes the AGLS Newsletter. The committee chooses a theme for each edition and collects articles from AGLS members.
- AGLS Mentoring Circles program – formerly the AGLN Mentoring Circles program. The AGLS Professional Development Committee will oversee this program. It aims to support the professional development of AGLS members through small group mentoring.
- Foundational Australian Government Lawyer Training Program – cost-effective training on foundational competencies for junior lawyers developed and delivered by senior lawyers from within government. The sold-out program was run twice in 2019 to 2 groups of 60 attendees and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. The program was not run in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions. From 2021, the program will be run twice a year, in consultation with the AGLS Professional Development Committee.
- Reciprocal Secondment Program – involving short-term secondments between high performing government in-house lawyers and other government in-house lawyers or private practice lawyers. Among other benefits, the program assists in-house lawyers to strengthen their current legal professional skills as well as build insights and gain new perspectives from other legal practices. The program is being comprehensively evaluated and is expected to be run together with the AGLS Professional Development Committee.
- Whole-of-Government Legal Advice Database – the database aims to reduce overlap and duplication of Commonwealth advice, promote greater consistency in entities’ approach to cross-cutting issues and thereby improve legal risk management. The Database Advisory Working Group established to develop governance arrangements in conjunction with the establishment of the database, is an informal AGLS working group.
The inaugural AGLS Board has now been established.
Contact us if you have any questions about the AGLS board.