Go to content

Annual Report 2018 - 2019

Learning and development

Fact file
3,243 people registered for Legal Aid NSW conferences and seminars
2,141 people attended Legal Aid NSW training courses and workshops
82 distinct courses and workshops conducted for staff

OBJECTIVE: Strong partnerships

Conferences among the premier events on the legal professional development calendar

We present regular conferences in the areas of criminal law, civil law, family law and care and protection law. Our conferences support the professional development of our staff and the wider justice sector. They attract high-calibre speakers including judges and leading experts in their fields, and frequently sell out in advance.

  • Our annual care and protection conference was held in August 2018. With around 400 attendees, it was the largest professional development event for people working in child protection law.
  • Our annual in-house family law conference was held in August 2018 and attended by 188 staff.
  • Our annual criminal law conference was attended by 573 participants over three days in August 2018. Speakers included NSW Supreme Court Justices Lucy McCallum and Geoffrey Bellew SC, Chief Judge of the District Court Derek Price AM, and a range of eminent counsel and criminal justice experts.
  • Our annual civil law forum was held in March 2019. This year’s forum included addresses from Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie and staff from across our civil law practice.
  • The NSW Child Representation Conference, a collaboration between Legal Aid NSW and Legal Aid ACT, was held in March 2019 and attended by 255 legal practitioners, social scientists, mediators and other professionals, as well as judicial officers from the family, children’s and local courts from across Australia.

OBJECTIVE: A highly capable workforce

Building skills for tomorrow’s leaders

The first round of graduates of our flagship leadership program, LEAD, came together in 2018 to celebrate their successful completion of the program. LEAD provides a supportive environment for aspiring managers to discuss and draw practical learning from theory, research and case studies, to better inform their practice and improve service delivery. At the cWore of the program design is a genuine commitment to create future leaders who are better equipped to manage complex issues, lead by example and empower others. The LEAD program follows on from the highly successful New Leaders Program which ran from 2015 to 2017.

In March 2019, 24 new participants began the LEAD program, with a further 18 due to join the program in mid-2019.

Identification of talent and succession planning

Our senior leadership endorsed a new approach for identifying, developing and mobilising talent in Legal Aid NSW to mitigate succession risks. Under the new approach, career conversations will identify those staff performing highly across three talent indicators: consistent performance, potential to progress to complex and challenging positions, and individual aspiration to do so.

Members of the Legal Aid NSW executive introduced quarterly talent review discussions to consider critical roles in our organisation, identify new talent, and align people to new opportunities.

Expanding our solicitor in charge orientation program

Our orientation program for new solicitors in charge, first piloted in early 2018, continued this year and was expanded to include all new managers. Between August 2018 and April 2019, 26 staff participated in the two-day course. Following positive feedback and evaluation, the orientation will be reviewed and adapted to further reflect the internal and external knowledge needs of managers. The program provides an overview of key stakeholders, policies, processes, systems and tools to support managers in leading and managing their teams and the day-today resources and activities of their office.

Establishment of the Organisational Learning and Development Roundtable

The inaugural meeting of the Organisational Learning and Development Roundtable occurred in December 2018, with members representing a cross-section of Legal Aid NSW staff. The bi-monthly roundtable meetings offer a forum for organisation-wide collaboration and overview in the area of learning and organisational development. The roundtable is responsible for advising on organisational priorities and best practice related to the ongoing professional learning and development of Legal Aid NSW staff, and making recommendations in relation to proposed and existing learning and development initiatives.

Specialist networks increased staff capacity

We delivered more than 30,000 legal advice services in 2018–19 in the area of family law. This year, the Family Law Advice Specialist Network was established, with representatives from offices and specialist services across Legal Aid NSW. The network aims to facilitate referrals, help staff share information about services, and support lawyers providing advice services. It has been modelled on the successful Family Violence Specialist Network, through which staff share information about supporting clients affected by family and domestic violence.

Building the capacity of in-house civil lawyers

Our civil law practice maintains more than 15 communities of practice in key areas such as housing, social security, health justice and domestic violence. Communities of practice share expertise among peers, foster professional development and support staff to address systemic legal issues through their work.

A new community of practice was established in September 2018 to focus on fines. Members of the fines community of practice shared information, collaborated on reform initiatives and gathered case reports relating to fines, driver disqualification, and work and development orders. A training event held in March 2019 focused on issues relating to fines and how they affect young people, and ways to deliver engaging community legal education to young people.

We continued to deliver our Civil Law Legal Excellence Program in partnership with the Law Society of NSW. The program supports civil lawyers to develop a suite of technical legal skills, through education modules that are delivered by experienced civil lawyers and experts from Legal Aid NSW and beyond.

Year ahead iconThe year ahead

  • We will plan events that support the professional development of our staff, private lawyers and the broader justice sector.