About the committees
With the AGLS Board now established, the Australian Government Legal Network (AGLN) Board has ceased. The AGLN committees have transitioned to AGLS committees, with committee chairs and members keen to continue their work.
We would like to thank the many people who volunteered their time and energy to the AGLN – it has provided a strong foundation for the AGLS.
New AGLS committees have been established by the AGLS terms of reference. The Conference Committee, the Engagement and Communication Committee, and the Professional Development Committee are now commencing respective initiatives.
In line with the terms of reference, Board members have taken on ‘sponsorship' roles for one or more of the AGLS committees, listed below.
Each committee will choose a chair or chairs from amongst its members and will report regularly to their nominated Board sponsor or sponsors. Board sponsors are responsible for reporting back to the AGLS Board on the work of their committee and seeking guidance on key issues where necessary.
The Board will be able to establish additional committees if required.
The Conference Committee will organise and run the annual AGLS conference, the flagship AGLS event. Under the auspices of the AGLN, the committee was responsible for advanced planning (venue, MC and conference manager selection, catering and organising the post-conference networking event, liaising with the AGLN Board and AGD spending delegate). The committee is responsible for choosing a conference theme, the program, topics and speakers, advertising and participant feedback.
The inaugural annual conference that was planned for 2020, organised by the AGLN Conference Committee, was unfortunately postponed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaugural conference is now scheduled for the second half of 2021.
Engagement and Communication Committee
This committee merges the AGLN Engagement Committee and Newsletter Editorial Board Committee. This new committee aims to connect government lawyers, increase collaboration and promote sharing of information and resources, and recruit new members. The committee will coordinate a quarterly newsletter and social media content.
This committee is also responsible for early career lawyers, national engagement, and internal and external communication including AGLS website content.
Professional Development Committee
This committee will promote the professionalism of government lawyers, assist with recruiting the best lawyers to government legal practice, enhance the legal capability within government, and improve the training and development opportunities for government lawyers.
Under the auspices of the AGLN, the committee ran the Legal Circles Mentoring Program and the AGLN Seminar Series, a professional development program run specifically for government lawyers. The committee also developed the AGLN Core Competencies, which identified the key capabilities required for government lawyers.
The Professional Development Committee will have a role in delivering the Foundational Australian Government Lawyer Training program and the Reciprocal Secondment Program.
Legal Risk Committee
The Legal Risk Committee is established by the AGLS Board Terms of Reference.
The Legal Risk 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.
Given the important role of the Legal Risk Committee, current thinking is that the AGLS Board chair would be responsible for reporting on the activities of the Legal Risk Committee.
At its inaugural Board meeting, the AGLS Board agreed that developing and finalising the terms of reference for the Legal Risk Committee, including ensuring it has appropriate representation is a key priority for the AGLS for 2021. As such, the Legal Risk Committee members will be determined once the terms of reference are finalised.
Legal Practice Managers' Forum
Formerly an AGLN committee, the Legal Practice Managers’ Forum offers a quarterly forum for Commonwealth in-house legal practice managers and others to network and share practice management challenges and solutions, including governmental legal practice issues. The establishment of the forum aligned with the AGLN's objective of developing Commonwealth legal practices.
Under the AGLS, the forum will continue as an informal AGLS working group and provide useful information, feedback and support for AGLS initiatives. For example, the Foundational Australian Government Lawyer Training program includes a panel discussion on practice management.
The Board sponsor for this forum is Tim Ffrench. The forum does not have a formal chair. Members take turns hosting meetings to provide a discussion group that seeks to both resolve and identify issues that are faced by Commonwealth legal practices. Practice managers and other government lawyers interested in the forum can contact the AGLS Team for further information.
AGLS initiatives underway
Some of the work already underway that AGLS committees will be responsible for 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 the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2021, the program is expected to be run twice a year, with the involvement of 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. A final evaluation of the pilot program is being progressed. The program is expected to be run with the involvement of the AGLS Professional Development Committee, and details on program dates will be released in the coming months.
- 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.
If you'd like to get involved in the AGLS as a member of a committee or chair, please contact the AGLS Team.