The Morrison Government has launched a new era in the provision of legal services to the Commonwealth, with the commencement of the first Whole of Government Legal Services Panel.
"The provision of external legal services to the Commonwealth is worth about $230 million per year based on spending in 2017-18," the Attorney-General said.
"This Panel brings together a range of providers to meet the diverse needs of Commonwealth clients and will help ensure agencies can access the services they need, when they need them."
The Panel, comprising more than 60 specialist legal providers from across Australia and across a wide range of service expertise, will provide the bulk of the Commonwealth's external legal services until 2024.
Twenty-two of the firms are 'small' having less than 50 practitioners, 21 are 'mid-tier' with between 50 and 250 practitioners, while 19 are large firms with over 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," the Attorney-General said.
"Commonwealth agencies are now required to use the Panel for the bulk of their external legal services.
"However, there remains important flexibility to engage off-Panel providers for up to ten per cent 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."
The Panel was recommended by the Attorney-General's Department's Secretary's Review of Commonwealth Legal Services to harness the purchasing power of the Commonwealth and achieve efficiencies for both providers and for agencies requiring legal services.
The procurement process involved extensive consultation and evaluation to select the successful providers, with assistance from numerous Commonwealth agencies.
Consistent with recent changes recognising the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) as the Government's central legal services provider, AGS has moved to an internal charging model and was not required to tender for the Panel. Agencies can continue to engage AGS alongside the private commercial firms included on the Panel.
For more information visit the Purchasing legal services page on the Attorney-General's Department website.