Purchasing legal services
About the Whole of Australian Government Legal Services Panel
The Whole of Australian Government Legal Services Panel began on 15 August 2019 and will run until 30 June 2024. The Standing Offer Number for the Panel is SON3622041.
All non-corporate Commonwealth entities, and other Commonwealth bodies that have opted-in, are required to purchase legal services consistently with the panel arrangements.
Alongside the panel, Commonwealth agencies can use AGS for any legal work at any time.
Please note: Agencies are able to purchase up to 10% of the value of their external legal services outside of the panel. This includes from legal services providers who did not tender or were not successful in being selected for the panel. Corporate Commonwealth entities can opt in to use the panel, but are not required to do so.
Legal services providers are appointed to the panel for specific practice areas, each with associated schedules of rates.
The panel consists of 5 broad areas of law:
- workplace, industrial relations and compensation
- property and environment
- public law
- corporate and commercial
- litigation specialisation
Each area of law comprises a number of practice areas. For more information, refer to:
In addition, Legal Support Services is a separate service for the procurement of legal staff in labour-hire type arrangements.
Pro bono Target
Appendix F of the Legal Services Directions 2017 encourages legal services providers to the Commonwealth to undertake pro bono work.
The National Pro Bono Target (the target) is a voluntary and aspirational commitment of at least 35 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per annum. Learn more about the target.
Commonwealth entities consider providers’ current and future pro bono activities and whether they are a signatory to the target when determining which legal services provider to engage.
Legal services providers appointed to the Whole of Australian Government Legal Services Panel were required to sign up to the National Pro Bono Target and use their best endeavours to meet or exceed the target. These legal services providers are required to report their total hours of pro bono work and average number of pro bono hours per lawyer for the previous financial year to OLSC annually.
The Attorney-General sent an open letter to panel appointed legal services providers in July 2023 outlining the Commonwealth’s ongoing commitment to the target.
AGS Pro bono
AGS is also a signatory to the target. There are statutory limitations on who the AGS can act for, including in a pro bono context. A determination under subsection 55N(4) of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) is required. This requires consideration of a range of issues, including ensuring there is a proper constitutional basis upon which AGS can act for that client and that there are no conflicts with the Commonwealth’s interests.
Notwithstanding these limitations, AGS values undertaking pro bono work and strives to meet the target.
How to use the panel
Legal Services Panel Portal
We have established the Legal Services Panel Portal to enable participating Commonwealth agencies to access legal services from the panel or the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS).
Agencies can use the portal to search for the names and rates of legal services providers and AGS, for any practice area.
We offer training sessions for Commonwealth agencies and panel legal services providers to enhance their ability to use and comply with the terms of the panel. Sessions cover:
- how the panel operates and what it means to use the panel
- how AGD and AGS relate to the panel
- panel guidance material and the flexibility framework
- LSP reporting obligations and data tools for agencies
- a demonstration of the Legal Services Panel (LSP) Portal.
Download a copy of our initial training presentations:
- Whole of Australian Government Agency induction session
- Whole of Australian Government Legal services provider induction session
Off-panel legal services procurements
From 1 January 2016 the Commonwealth Contracting Suite applies to all non-corporate Commonwealth entities. Corporate Commonwealth entities are encouraged to apply this policy.
Template contract terms are available from the Commonwealth contracting suite. Agencies should consider whether modifications are necessary to the template to ensure they obtain legal services on suitable terms that are consistent with their obligations under the Legal Services Directions 2017.
We have developed an optional annexure that agencies may include in their Commonwealth legal services contracts when engaging legal services outside of the panel arrangements. This annexure creates performance and reporting obligations consistent with the panel terms, but does not address other possible requirements to tailor the Commonwealth Contracting suite to suit a legal services procurement (e.g. by addressing the Legal Services Directions 2017).
For the engagement of counsel, Resource Management Guideline 420 provides that use of the CCS is optional when industry practice uses different terms and conditions.
Information about the panel
- Matrix of Legal Services Providers
- Panel Guidance Material
- Head Agreement template varied September 2019
- AGS Client Engagement Agreement
- Legal services providers' quarterly reporting template
- Legal services providers’ Pro Bono Work template
- Guidance for populating and uploading quarterly expenditure reports
- Guidance for Populating and uploading annual Pro Bono report template
- Frequently asked questions
- Panel Portal user instructions
Information for agencies
- Request for Quote template
- Order template
- Request for Exemption template
- Factsheet: Panel Fee
- Factsheet: Corporate Commonwealth Entities and Commonwealth Companies
- Deed of Participation (for Corporate Commonwealth Entities and Commonwealth Companies only)
- Off-Panel terms (for use with the Commonwealth Contracting Suite) optional Annex 1