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 Connecting government lawyers

Australian Government Legal Network

The Australian Government Legal Network (AGLN) aims to support the professional development of government lawyers, enhance the delivery of legal services to the Australian Government, and support the Attorney-General as First Law Officer.

The network facilitates information sharing by lawyers employed by the Australian Government. Objectives of the network include:

  • professionalising government in-house practices
  • creating a support network for government lawyers
  • further developing the Australian Government's role as an informed purchaser of legal services
  • improving the attractiveness of government legal practice through a range of development opportunities.

The Australian Government Legal Network was launched on 28 February 2013 by the Solicitor-General.

Australian Government Legal Network Board

A board has been appointed to develop the network. The board comprises 13 senior lawyers from the Australian Government public sector.

The members of the board are:

Note: position of Board Chair is currently vacant

  • Elissa Keen, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Louise Vardanega, Australian Government Solicitor, Attorney-General’s Department
  • Tamsyn Harvey, Attorney-General’s Department
  • Emily Sehu, Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • Tim Honey, Australian Securities and Investments Commission
  • Paul Barrett, Australian Sports Commission
  • Joe Rule, Civil Aviation Safety Authority
  • Kate Lalor, Department of the Environment and Energy
  • Bronwyn Worswick, Department of Veteran’s Affairs
  • Toni Walsh, Office of Parliamentary Counsel
  • Simon Writer, Treasury. 

Membership

The network is open to all legal service providers employed in Australian Government agencies.

If you are an Australian Government lawyer and wish to join the network, email the Australian Government Legal Network Secretariat at agln@ag.gov.au.

Current committees

The Australian Government Legal Network is assisted by volunteers in the following committees:

  • Conference Committee
  • Engagement Committee
  • Newsletter Editorial Board Committee
  • Professional Development Committee
  • Mentoring Sub-committee
  • Commonwealth Legal Manager's Forum.

If you are an Australian Government lawyer and you wish to volunteer, please contact the Australian Government Legal Network at agln@ag.gov.au.

Events

The AGLN conducts events throughout the year. This includes seminars, the annual conference and networking events. The AGLN also provides notifications for continuing legal education sessions held by members of the group.

Professional development seminars

The Professional Development Committee in conjunction with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel conducted free seminars in Canberra during 2018 on policy related topics. These seminars were very well attended and positively received. The three-part seminar series is made available for those who were not able to attend the sessions in person:

Annual Conference 2019

On Tuesday 23 July 2019, the Conference Committee in conjunction with the Office of Legal Services Coordination within the Attorney-General's Department held its Annual Conference at the Rex Hotel in Canberra. The Hon Robert French AC delivered the keynote address on statutory interpretation, legislative intention and the limits of lawful official action. Some of the noteworthy speakers included Peter Quiggin PSM who provided attendees with a legislative drafter’s view on the limits of legality, and Dr Gary Saliba who spoke on advising in complex and uncertain policy environments. The Conference had approximately 260 attendees. The Conference Committee is in the process of collecting feedback about the Conference, which so far has been positive. 

Contacts

For more information including upcoming events, follow the Australian Government Legal Network:

If you are interested in receiving the AGLN newsletter, please email agln@ag.gov.au.

General Counsel Working Group

The General Counsel Working Group is a representative group of senior legal services practice leaders from across the Australian Government.

The group was established in August 2010 and considers strategic issues facing the Australian Government legal services market.

The members of the group include:

  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Securities and Investment Commission
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Communications and the Arts
  • Department of Defence
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Human Services
  • Department of Home Affairs
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Department of Social Services
  • The Treasury

Our department provides secretariat support to the General Counsel Working Group.​

Australian Government Legal Service

On 8 November 2017, the Secretary of the Attorney General's Department published his Review of Commonwealth Legal Services (the Review). The Review made ten recommendations including linking government lawyers through automatic inclusion in an Australian Government Legal Service (AGLS). The Government has agreed to the establishment of the AGLS, to be taken forward by the Office of Legal Services Coordination (OLSC) within the Attorney-General’s Department in collaboration with legal practices in other Commonwealth entities.

The AGLS will be a formal professional network of government lawyers. It will support a new model for Commonwealth legal services involving more coordinated measures and procedures to support all Commonwealth lawyers and in-house legal areas, and enhance consistency and efficiency across the board. The AGLS will also re-orient and sharpen the Commonwealth’s internal legal services through the automatic inclusion of all Commonwealth government lawyers. 

The Review recommended that the AGLS replace the current AGLN – the AGLS will build on its predecessor’s work and the initiatives of its sub-committees. As part of the transition process, a Transition Steering Committee has been established, comprising members from the General Counsel Working Group, current AGLN Board members, and other Commonwealth legal representatives.

The AGLS is expected to launch in late 2019. The Transition Steering Committee has developed a discussion paper and as part of its ongoing consultation, regularly seeks submissions and input from stakeholders on the future AGLS.

If you have ideas about the AGLS or for more information about the discussion paper or the implementation of the Review, please check out our Frequently Asked Questions. ​​

For more information please email LSreview@ag.gov.au or visit the Secretary’s Review of Commonwealth Legal Services page.

 

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