Whole-of-government legal services panel
The whole-of-government legal services panel is a standing offer arrangement (SOA) between the State of Queensland and solicitors firms (suppliers) selected to provide legal services to government departments and other entities (customers).
It replaces existing legal services panels that were managed separately by Queensland Treasury, Queensland Health and the Department of Housing and Public Works. The panel consists of eight areas of law and 18 legal service categories. Solicitors firms appointed to the panel as suppliers provide services in one or more of the 18 categories.
The panel is supported by a supplementary list of suppliers for each category. The supplementary list is a reserve list of suppliers to provide the flexibility to meet the legal services needs of customers. Solicitors firms that weren’t successful in gaining appointment to the panel may be appointed to the supplementary list.
Queensland Government departments currently spend more than $30 million each year on external legal services from solicitors. The Queensland Government spends at least that much again across other government agencies and bodies.
By organising and managing this activity into one centrally managed arrangement, the government seeks to achieve:
- Better access to legal services by providing ready access to high quality legal services that meet the broad range of government legal needs.
- Better value for money by simplifying procurement and tendering, providing more competitive pricing for aggregated legal services, and facilitating alternative fee arrangements in appropriate circumstances.
- Better management of activity and expenditure through informed purchasing, consistent contracts, better performance management and reporting, and governance activities to continuously improve the panel arrangement.
Term of the panel
The panel commenced on 1 April 2015 for an initial term of three years, until 31 March 2018, with two options to extend the arrangement, for one year at a time. As of March 2018, the panel was extended and will now run until 31 March 2020.
A centrally coordinated panel manager will manage performance and monitor and report on the panel arrangement to drive continuous improvement.
The panel manager is the Director, Legal Services Coordination Unit, in the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
All enquiries should be directed via email to the panel manager.
The standing offer arrangement (SOA) documentation
The standing offer arrangement (SOA) consists of the following documents:
- SOA Details – contains information specific to the SOA, including requirements, pricing, performance measures and governance. The terms agreed in the SOA details document flow through to the contracts between customers and suppliers.
- SOA Conditions – contains the terms and conditions for the SOA between the government and the supplier.
- General Contract Conditions – contains the terms and conditions that apply to the contracts between customers and suppliers.
- Definitions and Interpretation – contains definition and interpretation clauses for the SOA Details, SOA Conditions and General Contract Conditions.
The role of Crown Law
Crown Law is a significant provider of legal services to the Queensland Government. Legal services as outlined in the tied work guidelines must be provided by Crown Law. In relation to untied work, Queensland Government departments may choose to engage Crown Law or a private solicitor or barrister. The panel does not change current arrangements with Crown Law and departments may continue to use Crown Law, as of right, in addition to panel firms.
Who can use the panel?
Only eligible customers can purchase legal services under the panel arrangement. Eligible customers include:
- Queensland Government departments.
- Queensland Government agencies and bodies accepted by the panel manager to opt in to the panel.
- Other entities (including those funded by the Queensland Government or non-profit organisations performing community services) accepted by the panel manager to opt in to the panel.
Queensland Government departments must use either the panel or Crown Law for all requirements for external legal services from solicitors, subject to limited exemptions.
Exemptions include if the required expertise isn’t available from panel firms, or if all available suppliers have conflicts of interest in acting for the customer. Departments are required to report quarterly to the Legal Services Coordination Unit on exemptions granted.
To maximise opportunities for regional firms and ensure flexibility, departments will be able to engage regional law practices ‘off-panel’ without seeking an exemption for work that arises in a regional area for matters up to the value of $15,000.
Unlike departments, entities that opt in to the panel arrangement are not required to use the panel exclusively.
Departments, and other entities that opt in, are required to nominate a supplier relationship manager to be their main point of contact for the panel.
What services can customers access?
The panel consists of eight areas of law and 18 categories. The Legal Service Categories Fact Sheet contains a description of each of the categories. The panel is supported by a supplementary list of suppliers for each category.
Which suppliers are on the panel?
There are 31 panel suppliers engaged to deliver services across the 18 categories. In addition, 24 suppliers are appointed to the supplementary list across the 18 categories. The panel and supplementary list suppliers are listed in the Legal Services Panel Suppliers List.
How do I use the panel?
General SOA information is available on the Queensland Contracts Directory. Pricing and the legal expertise and experience of key personnel for each of the panel and supplementary list firms is available to customers via emailing email@example.com.
More detail about how to use the panel is contained in the User Guide.