Federal agencies required to use new legal panel for 'bulk' of legal work

By Shannon Jenkins

August 20, 2019

Source: Getty Images

The Attorney-General has announced the 62 successful law firms that will make up the first whole-of-government Legal Services Panel.

The panel will provide 90% of the Commonwealth’s external legal services until 2024.

“Commonwealth agencies are now required to use the panel for the bulk of their external legal services,” Attorney-General Christian Porter said.

“However, there remains important flexibility to engage off-panel providers for up to 10% of an agency’s external expenditure and where specific exemptions have been granted by my department. This will allow smaller or new providers to access Commonwealth legal work and provide important flexibility for agencies.”

Of the firms, 22 have less than 50 practitioners, 21 have between 50 and 250 practitioners, while 19 are large firms with more than 250 professional staff.

“The panel consists of a broad spectrum of firms, specifically selected to cater for the range of the Commonwealth’s needs, ranging from specialist litigation to construction and infrastructure and workers’ compensation advice,” Porter said.

The panel was recommended by a 2016 review of Commonwealth legal services conducted by Porter’s Department. The panel is designed to “harness the purchasing power of the Commonwealth and achieve efficiencies for both providers and for agencies requiring legal services”.

Extensive consultation and evaluation were taken to select the winning tenders, Porter noted, with assistance from several Commonwealth agencies.

The Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) was recognised as the government’s central legal services provider and moved to an internal charging model in July. It was not required to tender for the panel, but agencies can continue to engage AGS alongside the firms on the panel.

Clayton Utz and HWL Ebsworth are the only firms on the panel that have qualified to perform all categories of legal work, such as corporate, property, public law and litigation.

More information can be found on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

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