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AGLS Board Communiqués

The AGLS Board will meet every 1-2 months to progress AGLS initiatives and will provide an update on work in progress.

2021 AGLS Board communiqués

The AGLS Board met on 25 November 2021

Summary of discussion and decisions

Statement of expectations of Australian Government lawyers

The Board endorsed the Statement of expectations of Australian Government lawyers, noting it is subject to final approval by the Secretary of the Attorney‑General’s Department.

General Counsel Charter

The Board endorsed the revised General Counsel Charter, noting it is subject to final approval by the Secretary of the Attorney‑General’s Department.

AGLS newsletter

The Board endorsed content for the first AGLS Newsletter, and thanked the Engagement and Communication Committee for preparing it, particularly Courtney Lor (DESE) and Nicholas Wilson (AGS), and the Board sponsors and AGLS secretariat for their contributions.

AGLS Board Annual Report

The Board endorsed a proposed outline and indicative timings for producing the 2021 AGLS Board Annual Report for the Secretary of the Attorney‑General’s Department.

The AGLS Board met on 4 November 2021

Summary of discussion and decisions

Conference Committee update

The Board discussed the highly successful 2021 AGLS Conference. There were 920 government lawyers registered to attend and feedback from attendees was positive and constructive. The Chair also noted there were lessons to be drawn for offering the conference in such an accessible way (the conference was held entirely virtually due to the COVID‑19 pandemic).

The Board acknowledged the work of the Conference Committee, particularly its Chair Caroline Rice, and the contribution of the AGLS secretariat.

Professional Development Committee update

The Board endorsed the revised Professional Development Committee Work Plan.

Engagement and Communications Committee update

The Board was advised the first AGLS Newsletter is due for publication at the end of November 2021 and was provided with statistics about AGLS social media followers.

Statement of expectations of Australian Government lawyers

The Board endorsed the revised Statement of expectations of Australian Government lawyers, subject to changes discussed in the meeting. The AGLS secretariat will pass on the Board’s feedback to government lawyers who provided input on the draft statement during a consultation period.

Heads of legal induction package and strategy

The Board endorsed the proposal to form a working group to develop a heads of legal induction package and strategy. The group will comprise government lawyers who have volunteered to assist and at least one Board sponsor. A sub‑group of the Professional Development Committee will provide secretariat support, with assistance from the AGLS secretariat.

General Counsel Charter

The Board agreed to minor changes to the General Counsel Charter.

The AGLS Board met on 9 September 2021

Summary of discussion and decisions

2021 AGLS Conference update

The Board discussed arrangements for the AGLS Conference.

Professional Development Committee update

The Board was advised the Mentoring Circles program was underway.

Engagement and Communications Committee (ECC) update

The Board was advised the AGLS social media platforms were active and would be used to promote the conference.

The Board endorsed the ECC Communications Policy.

Legal Practice Managers’ Forum (LPMF) update

The LPMF Board sponsor has provided the forum with a document outlining his role.

AGLS Fee

The Board endorsed principles for implementing the AGLS fee, following government approval of an AGLS administrative funding measure whereby indexed funding will be cost-recovered from Commonwealth entities.

The AGLS Board met on 2 September 2021

Summary of discussion and decisions

2021 AGLS Conference

Given the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board endorsed wholly online delivery for the 2021 AGLS Conference.

The AGLS Board met on 19 August 2021.

Summary of discussion and decisions

Legal Risk Committee update

AGD provided an overview of the first Legal Risk Committee meeting on 28 July 2021. The Board endorsed revised Terms of Reference for the committee.

Conference Committee update

The Board was updated on arrangements for the AGLS Conference.

Professional Development Committee (PDC) update

The Board was updated on the high response rate following the call for expressions of interest for the Mentoring Circles initiative. There were18 nominations for mentors and 77 for mentees. Over half of nominations were from AGLS members outside the ACT. The PDC is aiming to start the program during the coming weeks. The Board expressed their appreciation to the PDC and the AGLS Secretariat for their work on this initiative.

The Board endorsed the Professional Development Committee Charter.

Engagement and Communications Committee

The Board endorsed the following documents:

  • AGLS Communications Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement Plan
  • AGLS Activities and Events Snapshot
  • Engagement and Communications Committee Charter and Social Media Policy.

Australian Government Legal Advice Database

The Chair welcomed members of the Attorney-General’s Department’s Information Division who provided a demonstration of the Australian Government Legal Advice Database.

The AGLS Board met on 5 August 2021.

Summary of discussion and decisions

2021 AGLS Conference

The Board discussed arrangements for the AGLS Conference.

AGLS SLIC Advisors

The Board selected two AGLS Advisors for the Significant Legal Issues Committee for 12 months.

The AGLS Board met on 15 July 2021.

Summary of discussion and decisions

Australian Government Legal Advice Database

The Board was advised a functional beta version of the Australian Government Legal Advice Database was completed on 30 June 2021. The next stage of the project involves the Department of Finance providing PGPA Act and Rule advices for upload to the database, and undertaking user testing.

Legal Risk Committee update

The Board noted work to stand up the Legal Risk Committee is well progressed. The first meeting is scheduled for 28 July 2021, at which members are invited to provide an agency update. Future meetings will involve more substantive discussions and shared experiences about legal risk and legal practice.

Legal Practice Managers’ Forum update

The Board sponsor for the forum provided an update. Several Board members expressed willingness to speak to the forum to share ideas about what the forum can do.

Foundational Government Lawyer Training Program (GLT)

The Board endorsed a proposal from the GLT Working Group to increase the maximum number of participants at the November 2021 program from 60 to 120 in order to address the current waiting list, including securing an appropriate venue to enable this and to engage an event manager.

The Board also tasked the GLT Working Group to form a sub-committee to explore future design and delivery options for the GLT from 2022 onwards.

Conference Committee update

The Board discussed the arrangements for the 2021 AGLS Conference.

Mentoring Circles

The Board sponsors for the Professional Development Committee (PDC) provided an overview of the of the mentoring circles initiative. The Board decided this initiative should run this year, and tasked the PDC to work with the Engagement and Communication Committee to gather materials for a package to support its implementation from 2022 onwards. The Board tasked the AGLS Secretariat to seek mentees through an expression of interest round to the government lawyer network and to approach heads of legal seeking nominations for mentors.

Statement of expectations of Commonwealth Government lawyers

The Board discussed the draft Statement and agreed to consult government lawyers, including heads of legal, on the draft via the AGLS website, email and other AGLS communications channels.

AGLS Communications Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement Plan

The Board received an update about the AGLS Communications Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement plan which the Board will be asked to endorse once finalised.

AGLS Survey

The Board was updated on the AGLS survey. The survey was open from 28 June to 9 July 2021 and distributed via heads of legal. It received 344 responses. The purpose of the survey was to report on government lawyer satisfaction with the AGLS and its initiatives. The 2021 results will also provide a useful baseline for future surveys.

The Board agreed the AGLS Secretariat would collate the survey responses relevant to each AGLS committee and consider publishing quantitative survey data on the AGLS website.

The AGLS Board met with the AGLS committee chairs on 25 June 2021.

Summary of discussion and decisions

The Chair welcomed AGLS committee chairs to the meeting and thanked them for their work and commitment to the AGLS. The Chair said the AGLS Board is aware that the work of the AGLS is that done by the Board, committee chairs, committees themselves and through the participation of government lawyers more broadly. The Chair acknowledged that in this first year of the AGLS, the governance frameworks being developed by the Board and committees will support those who come after us.

Engagement and Communications Committee

One of the Co-Chairs of the Engagement and Communications Committee (ECC) updated the Board on the committee’s priorities, including looking to increase engagement on social platforms like Twitter and developing a policy for authorising content. The Board agreed that in addition to its core role in engaging and communicating with AGLS members, the ECC will act as an enabling service for the work of all AGLS committees.

AGLS Conference Committee

The Chair of the Conference Committee presented an overview of key activities included in the committee’s work plan, primarily directed at organising the inaugural AGLS Conference to take place on 14 October 2021. The AGLS Conference will offer in-person and online attendance options. The Conference program is close to being finalised, and features a mix of eminent legal speakers, panel and wellbeing sessions.

Professional Development Committee

The Chair of the Professional Development Committee presented an overview of the committee’s draft charter and draft work plan for 2021‑22.

Legal Practice Managers’ Forum

The Board sponsor of the forum, Tim Ffrench, provided a paper updating the Board on the forum’s work. Discussion of this update was deferred to the next meeting due to timing. 

The AGLS Board met on 20 May 2021.

Summary of discussion and decisions

AGLS virtual launch

The Board noted the successful virtual launch of the AGLS on 30 April 2021. The launch consisted of a series of videos and updates to the AGLS website. Heads of legal of Commonwealth agencies and people who have subscribed via the AGLS website were notified.

Foundational Australian Government Lawyer Training

The Board acknowledged the success of the third Foundational Australian Government Lawyer Training program, which ran from 5-7 May 2021. There were 62 participants from 20 agencies in attendance.

Appointing advisors to the Significant Legal Issues Committee (SLIC)

The Board agreed to invite nominations for 2 AGLS SLIC advisors from amongst the heads of legal or senior government lawyers of all agencies, and appoint advisors from these nominations at the Board’s discretion. Criteria will be developed for the AGLS SLIC advisors.

Statement of roles and responsibilities of government lawyers

The Board agreed to continue work to develop a statement of roles and responsibilities of government lawyers, and consult heads of legal and AGLS members before finalising it.

Committee updates

Relevant Board sponsors provided an update on the work of their committees.

The Board was advised work is underway to stand up the Legal Risk Committee.

The Board endorsed a theme, program and speaker plan for the 2021 AGLS Conference.

The Board was advised an external provider has been engaged to develop an AGLS stakeholder engagement and communications plan.

The Board agreed to invite AGLS Committee Chairs to the next Board meeting.

The AGLS Board met on 22 April 2021 to discuss the purpose, structure and membership of the Legal Risk Committee, a committee established by the AGLS Board Terms of Reference.

The Board endorsed Terms of Reference for the Legal Risk Committee.

The AGLS Board met on 11 March 2021. All members attended.

Summary of decisions

AGLS Strategic Plan

Board members participated in a strategic planning workshop in February 2021. At the meeting, members discussed a draft AGLS strategic plan, prepared following the workshop, setting out the vision for the AGLS and actions linked to overarching themes of governance, engagement or personal development. The plan will be published on the AGLS website after it is finalised by the board.

AGLS virtual launch

The board noted plans are being finalised for the virtual launch of the AGLS, expected to occur shortly and involve a series of updates to the AGLS website – www.governmentlawyers.gov.au.

AGLS Legal Risk Committee

The board discussed establishing the new AGLS Legal Risk Committee, including its proposed functions and membership. The committee will be a representative group of senior legal services practice leaders from the Commonwealth public sector (e.g. General Counsel, Chief Lawyer, Chief Legal Officer, Special Counsel). The committee will provide a forum to identify, analyse and provide input on issues of whole-of-government legal risk and assist in managing Commonwealth legal risk in a coordinated manner. The board agreed to progress terms of reference for the committee.

2021 AGLS Conference

The board discussed proposed themes and dates for the 2021 AGLS Conference. Further details will be made available on the AGLS website.

Statement of roles and responsibilities for government lawyers

The board discussed a draft statement of roles and responsibilities for government lawyers, a key recommendation from the Secretary’s Review, which is intended to complement the General Counsel Charter. The board agreed to consult the Professional Development Committee about the draft.

2020 AGLS Board communiqués

The AGLS Board met for the first time on 10 December 2020. All members expressed their eagerness to participate in the AGLS’s work and initiatives and promote its key values.

Summary of decisions

AGLS Board members

In accordance with the board’s Terms of Reference, board members are drawn from a representative mix of senior legal advisers and heads of legal in small and mid-size agencies and include representatives from non‑Canberra based agencies. A list of AGLS Board members is available on the AGLS website.

AGLS Board Chair

Board members elected Sarah Godden (General Counsel – Communications & Arts at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications) as board chair for the calendar year.

Strategic Plan

The board discussed developing an AGLS strategic plan as a key priority for early 2021.

AGLS Conference

The board discussed holding an AGLS conference in the second half of 2021 and agreed to nominate possible chairs and members for a Conference Committee to progress this work.

Statement of Roles and Responsibilities of Government Lawyers

The board agreed to develop a statement of roles and responsibilities of government lawyers, who are the members of the AGLS. The statement will emphasise the AGLS’s key messages, with reference to the AGLS strategic plan and the General Counsel Charter

National Engagement Strategy

The board discussed the importance of engaging with government lawyers across Australia, particularly those not based in Canberra, and agreed to develop a National Engagement Strategy.

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