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Information for Panel Lawyers

pdf iconInformation for Panel Lawyers (pdf brochure 1.22MB)

This brochure has been designed to assist you when acting for legally aided clients.

Legal Aid NSW requires private legal practitioners (and in some cases barristers who directly represent clients) to be appointed to a panel in order to undertake legal aid work.

Finalising your Panel appointment

Service Agreements and Supervisory Undertakings

Your appointment notification requires you to execute an online Service Agreement (and for some lawyers, a Supervisory Undertaking). Before being permitted to undertake work as a Panel member, you must execute these through the Panels Application Website. Failure to do so will result in your appointment not being finalised and your membership not being activated.

Your panel appointment is for a period of up to five years. 

Documents, polices and guidelines you must be familiar with

By signing your Service Agreement you agree to comply with the following:

  1. Practice Standards

    Practice standards are in place for all areas of law. They can be viewed in the practice standards legally aided matters webpage.

  2. Terms and conditions for use of Grants Online

    Grants Online is used by Panel Lawyers to submit applications for legal aid and to claim fees and disbursements, to correspond with Legal Aid NSW, and to update client and firm details.

    Legal Aid NSW requires Panel Lawyers and their staff to comply with the terms and conditions for use of Grants Online, including record keeping associated with legal aid applications, income and assets verification, verifying Centrelink entitlements and security and confidentiality of usernames and passwords.  

  3. Fee Scales

    Legal Aid NSW has developed fee scales covering all practice areas in both State and Commonwealth matters. The fee scales also contain information about travel entitlements and agent fees. It is important for you to be familiar with the Fee Scales so that you can ensure the invoices submitted for your professional fees and disbursements are accurate. 

  4. Policies and guidelines

    Legal Aid NSW Policy Online outlines the policies and guidelines that apply in legally aided matters. Policy Online includes Legal Aid NSW polices, the guidelines for these policies, a glossary of terms commonly used by Legal Aid NSW and practice procedures.

Practice Standards

Practice standards are in place for all areas of law. They can be viewed in the practice standards legally aided matters webpage.

Terms and conditions for use of Grants Online

Grants Online is used by Panel Lawyers to submit applications for legal aid and to claim fees and disbursements, to correspond with Legal Aid NSW, and to update client and firm details.

Legal Aid NSW requires Panel Lawyers and their staff to comply with the terms and conditions for use of Grants Online, including record keeping associated with legal aid applications, income and assets verification, verifying Centrelink entitlements and security and confidentiality of usernames and passwords.  

Fee Scales

Legal Aid NSW has developed fee scales covering all practice areas in both State and Commonwealth matters. The fee scales also contain information about travel entitlements and agent fees. It is important for you to be familiar with the Fee Scales so that you can ensure the invoices submitted for your professional fees and disbursements are accurate. 

Policies and guidelines

Legal Aid NSW Policy Online outlines the policies and guidelines that apply in legally aided matters. Policy Online includes Legal Aid NSW polices, the guidelines for these policies, a glossary of terms commonly used by Legal Aid NSW and practice procedures.

Grants of Legal Aid

Applying for legal aid on behalf of your client

The Service Agreement at clause 4.2.10 requires Panel Lawyers to submit all application and extension requests for legal aid electronically, using the Grants Online system. 

Offers of work and the allocation of grants of legal aid

Legal Aid NSW may at times make offers of work to lawyers who are members of a panel via the Grants Online system. Please note that the number of matters offered makes up a very small proportion of legally aided matters. More information on panel offers can be viewed in the Grants Online FAQs.

Grants of aid may also be assigned directly to a particular panel lawyer in appropriate circumstances. The Grants Allocation Guidelines provide further information about these circumstances.

The Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 at section 52 (5) states that appointment to a panel does not confer an entitlement to work.

Administrative matters

Changes to your details

As a Panel lawyer you must notify Legal Aid NSW if you leave your current firm (even if it is on a temporary basis). It is important that you call the Legal Aid NSW service desk on 9219 5999 or email at servicedesk@legalaid.nsw.gov.au if you:

  • Join a new firm
  • Cease practising
  • Are appointed to the Judiciary
  • Join the Public Sector

If there are changes to your current firm's business address or contact details, you should update these details yourself via Grants Online.

Information about how to change your details may be viewed in the Grants Online FAQs.

Panel appointment renewals

Panel Lawyers may view their panel appointment expiry dates using the Update Personal Details function in Grants Online. Legal Aid NSW invites Panel Lawyers to apply for reappointment at the appropriate time. If a lawyer chooses not to reapply to a Panel the appointment lapses on the expiry date.

Audits

All lawyers appointed to a panel agree to be audited against the practice standards as well as Legal Aid NSW policies and guidelines.

Legal Aid NSW conducts file audits and spot check audits. File audits are generally conducted on completed matters and spot check audits may be conducted on current or completed matters.

All communication regarding audits, including the outcome of file and spot check audits, is now via the Notice Board in Grants Online.

Audit tips and updates appear regularly in the monthly Legal Aid News bulletins.

Further information about audits can be viewed in the audit information webpage.

Monitoring Committee

A Monitoring Committee has been established by Legal Aid NSW. The Monitoring Committee may make recommendations to the Legal Aid NSW CEO including recommending that a lawyer not be assigned legal aid work for a period of time, or that they be removed from a panel where it appears that a breach of the service agreement has occurred.

Need Help?

If you have any enquiries regarding your Panel appointment, please contact the Professional Practices Branch on 9219 5662 or by e-mail at panels@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.