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Secretary’s Review of Commonwealth Legal Services

In December 2015, the Australian Government tasked the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to conduct a review of Commonwealth legal services. The findings and recommendations drew upon the expertise and experience of a diverse and highly engaged group of stakeholders across many Commonwealth entities and the legal services sector. It makes a number of wide ranging recommendations for improvements to the Commonwealth legal services framework.
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Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

In May 2018, the Australian Government commissioned an independent review of the APS to ensure it is fit-for-purpose to serve all Australians for the coming decades. The terms of reference sought a review of the capability, culture and operating model of the APS and practical recommendations to ensure the APS best serves the Australian Government and people: providing security, driving productivity, and improving the experience of government for citizens. The review was also asked to consider the suitability of the APS’s architecture and governing legislation and its effective delivery of outcomes for Australians.
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AGLS Board Terms of reference

The terms of reference set out the purpose, functions, composition and administration of the AGLS Board, as well as the AGLS committee structure.
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General Counsel Charter

Endorsed by the head of the AGLS, the General Counsel Charter identifies Commonwealth General Counsel's obligations as part of the broader leadership cohort within the AGLS. It also sets out how AGD’s Office of Legal Services Coordination (OLSC) will support General Counsel to meet those obligations.
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Virtual training and resources

While face-to-face training is limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation and uncertainty around border closures, please visit the following organisations to access non-contact training opportunities.

ACT Law Society

The ACT Law Society is running a series of on-demand webinars.

Law Society of NSW

The Law Society of NSW has a catalogue of various online LawInform courses.

Law Institute of Victoria

The Law Institute of Victoria has a calendar of upcoming CPD events and training.

Australian Government Solicitor

The Australian Government Solicitor has a calendar of upcoming online training

Australian Law Reform Commission

The Australian Law Reform Commission is running a series of on-demand webinars.


The Office of Legal Services Coordination

The Office of Legal Services Coordination (OLSC) in the Attorney-General’s Department administers the Legal Services Directions 2017 (the directions), which are made by the Attorney-General under the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth). The directions apply to all non-corporate Commonwealth entities. Certain provisions of the directions apply to corporate Commonwealth entities by virtue of paragraph 12.3. 

The OLSC page on the Attorney-General’s Department website hosts information on the Legal Services directions and more.

OLSC assists Commonwealth entities to comply with their obligations under the directions by providing support, guidance and training. OLSC administers the directions including through managing the reporting and compliance frameworks and preparing guidance notes. OLSC also supports the Attorney-General in his role as First Law Officer to oversee and manage Commonwealth legal risk.

OLSC does not provide legal advice, but works with agencies to share information on whole of government issues, and promote best practice for the active management of legal risk across the Commonwealth.

Australian Government Solicitor

The Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) plays a special role in the Commonwealth’s legal services landscape.

Whilst AGS was not required to tender for the Legal Services Panel, agencies are able to obtain legal services from AGS alongside panel firms. Agencies may choose to engage AGS for any work at any time. To make things easier, the ability to engage AGS has been incorporated into the Legal Services Panel Portal, making it your one-stop-shop for legal services providers.

Distinct from panel firms, AGS operates as the central Commonwealth in-house legal services provider, with particular expertise in areas of law closely related to Commonwealth powers and activities. This emphasised role as a centre of excellence for the Commonwealth reflects AGS’s special role in supporting the First Law Officer and Second Law officer and the Commonwealth more generally. The 2017 Secretary’s Review recognised that AGS is the central in-house provider of legal services to the Commonwealth whose core purpose is to enable the government to achieve its objectives. This role allows AGS to contribute to the effective management of Commonwealth legal risk.

In particular, AGS lawyers will join other Commonwealth agency in-house lawyers as members of AGLS. Within this context, AGS will play a central role in enhancing the coordination and consistency of legal approaches across the Commonwealth.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act)

The PGPA Act is the cornerstone of the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework. Find out how it applies to you by visiting the Department of Finance website.

Legal Services Panel Portal

The Legal Services Panel Portal enables Australian Government agencies to efficiently purchase external legal services from the Whole of Australian Government Legal Services Panel or the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS).

Agencies with access to the panel can participate in professional development provided by legal service providers such as conferences, online masterclasses, seminars and training sessions.

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