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 legal practices (suppliers) selected to provide legal services and/or legal resources to government departments and other entities (customers).
The panel consists of 14 legal service categories and an additional area of service for the provision of legal resourcing. Suppliers appointed to the panel provide services in one or more of the categories/service area.
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 managing this activity under one centrally managed arrangement, the government seeks to achieve:
- better access to legal services by providing ready access to high quality legal services and a wide mix of legal firms, including small-medium law practices to facilitate better matching of legal resources to legal needs.
- better value for money through reduced tendering and procurement costs and efficient processes, providing competitive maximum rates, facilitating alternative fee arrangements in appropriate circumstances and helping to advance the government’s economic, environmental and social objectives.
- better management of activity and expenditure through informed purchasing and active management of legal costs, consistent contractual arrangements, better performance management and reporting, and governance activities to continuously improve the panel arrangement.
Term of the Panel
The panel commenced on 1 June 2020 and the initial term is due to end 31 May 2024. There is a further two-year extension option available. The Queensland Government may also conduct refresh processes at mid-term and prior to exercising extension options.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
- any entity which is directly or indirectly, partially or entirely funded by the State of Queensland, and/or a community based, non-profit making organisation performing community services, and/or another entity accepted by the Panel manger to opt in to the panel;
- the Commonwealth, another State or a Territory Government accepted by the panel manger 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 all available suppliers have conflicts of interest in acting for the customer. Departments are required to report 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.
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, a panel supplier 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.
Suppliers should also note the Office of the Official Solicitor of the Public Trustee is also a Supplier of legal services in the property area, and this arrangement will continue.
What services can customers access?
The panel consists of 14 categories of law and a service area for legal resourcing. The Legal Service Categories Fact Sheet contains a description of each of the categories.
Which suppliers are on the panel?
Panel suppliers may deliver services in one or more of the categories of law/service area. The panel suppliers are listed on the Queensland Contracts Directory.
How do I use the panel?
General SOA information is available to customers on the Queensland Contracts Directory (QCD). Pricing and the legal expertise and experience of key personnel for each of the panels is available to customers via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
More detail about how to use the panel is contained in the Legal Services Panel Buyers Guide available to customers on the QCD.