Posted on February 11, 2021 by Matthew McNamara and Lindsay Taylor

A New Pathway for the Procurement of Legal Services

The spending of public money and the awarding of public sector contracts are areas that are rightfully subject to substantial regulation and scrutiny. Ensuring the procurement process is both efficient and effective for both agencies and service providers is not always easy, however.

In recent years, there has been a pronounced shift towards the formation of multi-agency panels of approved providers at both the State and local level for a whole range of goods and services. These panels have the objective of reducing the duplication of procurement processes for both agencies and service providers, whilst leveraging off the increased purchasing power of groups of agencies to obtain more competitive pricing.

As far as legal services is concerned, the two prominent multi-agency panels are the NSW Government Legal Services Panel (‘State Government Legal Panel‘) and the newly formed Local Government Procurement Panel of Approved Legal Services Providers (‘Local Government Procurement Legal Panel‘). LTL is appointed to both of these panels.

State Government Legal Panel

Formed in 2016, and managed by Transport for NSW, the inaugural State Government Legal Panel aims to provide a whole of government approach to procurement of legal services, with over 40 law firms – including LTL – and 34 areas of law servicing over 150 state government agencies.

LTL is appointed to the State Government Legal Panel for the following areas of law:

  • Planning, environmental, heritage & natural resources law
  • Administrative & governance law/ statutory interpretation and advice
  • Local government law
  • Enforcement, regulation & prosecution

Further information on the panel can be found here

The inaugural panel is due to expire in June 2021 and assessment of tenderers is currently underway for its successor. The success of the inaugural panel from a purchasing agency point of view is suggested by how few changes are proposed to the way the new panel will operate – it will have slightly fewer areas of law than its predecessor;  will include a sub-panel for legal support services to in house legal services teams;  and has seen a reduction in reporting requirements for providers – but otherwise appears to generally operate in the same way.

Since its inception, local government authorities have been able to procure from the State Government Legal Panel as one of  the panel’s “other eligible agencies“.  A number of councils – particularly in metropolitan areas have done so – though some of these have done so in parallel with maintaining their own more local government focused panels.

Local Government Procurement Legal Panel

Local Government Procurement – which is a prescribed bulk purchasing organisation under the Local Government Act 1993 – has recently established a Panel of Approved Legal Service Providers (T3.20)  following a rigorous RFT process in the second half of 2020. The panel arrangements took effect on 1 February 2021. The panel has an initial term of 2 years, with a further 3 x 1 year options.

The panel is available for all NSW local government authorities to procure legal services. It includes both metropolitan and regional law firms and is designed to assist councils to utilise local service providers as well as firms with more specialist expertise, which still tend to be located in metropolitan areas.

LGP’s objective is clearly that many councils with existing legal services panel arrangements – upon the expiry of their current panel arrangements – will instead procure legal services via the LGP Panel. Anecdotally, there are already indications in the market that a number of councils plan to do so. The benefit of not having to run and assess legal service tenders – which can take months – and a reduction in ongoing compliance costs is a clear attraction.

However, the LGP Panel also promises significant benefits for those general purpose councils and county councils without existing legal services panels.

One of the defining features of the LGP panel is that law firms on the panel must commit to offering the preferential panel rates to all NSW local government authorities for all new matters opened after the commencement 1 February 2021, unless there is an existing contractual relationship. This should mean that smaller regional and rural councils are able to procure legal services at more competitive rates.

LTL is appointed to the Local Government Procurement Panel for the following areas of law:

  •  Administrative Law
  • Local Government Law
  • Environmental & Planning Law
  • Property Law
  • Property Development Law
  • Building & Construction Law
  • Contract Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Business & Corporations Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Public & Environmental Health Law
  • Industrial Relations & Employment Law

For further information about the Local Government Procurement Legal Panel, please see the announcement information provided by LGP here; approved LGP customers can log in here

LTL Services

For further information about LTL and our provision of legal services to NSW government agencies and local government, please contact our Chief Executive Officer, Dr Matthew McNamara, on 02 8235 9790 or one our partners: