On 1 July 2016 the New South Wales Government introduced the New South Wales Government Legal Services Panel (New South Wales Panel), its first whole-of-government panel for the provision of legal services to government. The Panel Rules include pro bono provisions (see below).
The aim of the New South Wales Panel is to achieve cost savings by utilising the purchasing power of the New South Wales Government and provide certainty to law firms regarding the volume of Government legal work.
The New South Wales Panel is made up of six sub-panels, each managed by a Panel Contract Manager. There are currently 44 law firms listed on the New South Wales Panel.
The New South Wales Panel is currently administered by Transport for NSW. The provisions that regulate the Panel are contained in the Panel Rules and Panel Deed.
The pro bono provisions
Provisions relating to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target
Under Clause 12(b) of the Panel Deed, if the Service Provider is a mid-size to large-size law firm, it must undertake to use its best endeavours to meet the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target (Target) of 35 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per year.
Clause 2.1(j) of the Service Level Agreement (Annexure C to the Panel Deed) also states that Service Providers must (as a minimum service standard) endeavour to meet the Target of 35 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per year.
Provisions relating to pro bono reporting
Under Clause 3.1.11 of the Service Level Agreement (Annexure C to the Panel Deed), Service Providers must provide a report on the Pro Bono Services they provide in accordance with the Panel Deed in each Contract Year and any financial year following the final Contract Year. The report is to be provided to the Panel Contract Manager (currently Transport for NSW). A copy of the reporting form for pro bono services can be accessed here.
Clause 12 (c) of the Deed also provides that the Service Provider must maintain records in relation to Pro Bono Services as are required to demonstrate its performance against the Target and report on this performance to the Panel Contract Manager.
Provisions relating to conflicts of interest
Under Clause 22.2. of the Panel Deed and Schedule 4 – Conflict Management Guidelinein the Panel Rules, Panel firms are able to provide pro bono legal services against the State and any Agency in pro bono matters, so long as it does not give rise to a conflict of interest or breach any of the Panel firm’s obligations under the Panel Deed or Panel Rules.
For more information
Further information on the New South Wales Panel can be found here.
You can also find more discussion of pro bono provisions in government tender arrangements, including a comparison of the arrangements put in place by the Commonwealth, Victorian, New South Wales, Western Australian and South Australian Governments here.