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Reciprocal Secondment Program

About the program

The Reciprocal Secondment Program involves short-term secondments between high-performing government in-house lawyers and private practice lawyers.

Among other benefits, the program helps 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 was informed by the Secretary's Review of Commonwealth Legal Services which noted support among stakeholders for a partnership with private sector law firms to offer secondment opportunities. The program involves a reciprocal secondment between participating lawyers for a minimum 4-month and maximum 6-month secondment term.
During the first 2 phases of the pilot, the program was targeted at junior-mid level lawyers in the private sector with 2–4 years post-admission experience, and government lawyers at the APS5–6 level in government agencies. So far, there have been 3 sets of exchanges between government lawyers and private practice lawyers, and 2 sets of inter-agency exchanges involving government lawyers temporarily transferring to another in-house government legal team.

Each secondee retains their employment status at their home organisation while performing duties at the host organisation.

A final evaluation of the pilot program is being progressed. We expect to run the program with the involvement of the AGLS Professional Development Committee, and details on program dates will be released in the coming months.

Benefits

The program gives secondees a valuable opportunity to:

  • gain a greater understanding of the public/private sector environment
  • acquire new skills and capability by gaining access to experiences and opportunities
  • expand their professional network.

Participant feedback

From secondees:  

This opportunity has enabled me to develop my verbal communication and organisational skills in a high pressure environment, and to familiarise myself with different processes.

I also enjoyed being given the time to get involved in the forensic analysis of various matters without critical time pressures that are often associated with private practice work. 

[This opportunity gave me] exposure to how another Commonwealth agency manages legal risk and provides its legal services. Whilst furthering my technical skills and gaining experience in a new subject matter has also been very valuable, I think that exposure in how my host organisation’s legal division runs its business is most valuable as I can apply that knowledge and experience in how I deliver legal services at my home organisation.

From supervisors:

[I valued] the opportunity to contribute to the career development of two junior lawyers.

[I enjoyed] the opportunity to learn and observe different working styles, share different ways of working and approaches to providing legal services, and draw on a different skillset.

It has been great to get an insight into how the legal division in another APS agency operates and their approach to drafting legal advice and liaising with client areas. This has encouraged us to reflect on our own practices and explore how we can improve.

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