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Key issues for Panel Lawyers

The Professional Practices Branch investigates possible breaches of panel lawyers' Service Agreements and conducts audits of panel lawyers' legal aid matters.

The role of Professional Practices

On appointment to a panel, lawyers enter into a Service Agreement and agree to comply with practice standards and audit arrangements. They may then undertake legal aid work in the areas of law covered by the particular panel.

Within the Legal Aid NSW Grants Division, Professional Practices is responsible for:

  • Panels: administering the Legal Aid NSW Panels process
  • Audits: conducting audits of panel lawyers to assess compliance with the Service Agreement, Practice Standards and Legal Aid Policies and Guidelines.
  • Investigating Breaches of Service Agreements: Professional Practices can refer an apparent breach of a Service Agreement to the Monitoring Committee which may recommend the suspension or removal of a lawyer from a panel.

Good practice audit themes

The vast majority of panel lawyers provide excellent legal aid services. Where an audit identifies an issue, this is raised with the practitioner. During the audit process we also come across areas that panel lawyers are doing well. In an effort to highlight these, we have selected five good practice themes (pdf 293KB) that we have identified from the audits and investigations conducted in 2018.

Adopting these good practices will enable all panel lawyers to confidently meet Legal Aid NSW audit requirements.

Further enquiries:

Contact: Senior Audit and Review Officer
Phone: 9219 5662
Email: audits@legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Monitoring Committee

In most cases, complaints and audit issues can be readily resolved. However if it appears that a Service Agreement has been breached, the panel lawyer may be referred to the Monitoring Committee.

The Monitoring Committee is established under section 52A of the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979. The Committee monitors service agreements and makes recommendations to Legal Aid NSW which may include the suspension or removal of a lawyer from a panel. Panel lawyers are given the opportunity to provide information and submissions to the Committee before they make their final recommendation. The final decision is then made by the CEO of Legal Aid NSW taking into account any further information or submissions made by a panel lawyer.

Further enquiries:

Contact: Dora Dimos Manager Professional Practices
Phone: 9219 5662
Email: panels@legalaid.nsw.gov.au