Meeting government legal training needs

AGS continues to excel as a provider of quality training courses in all aspects of government law. This year we increased our training output and added new courses to our offerings.

Some of the topics our courses cover include administrative law, statutory interpretation, constitutional law, the Commonwealth financial framework, employment law, code of conduct investigations, decision-making, delegations and authorisations, legal advice writing, government contracting, freedom of information and privacy. The course presenters are AGS lawyers with a great depth of knowledge of the government environment.

This year we delivered courses in 40 different subject areas in Canberra and our regional offices. We trained 825 participants from various government agencies and the private profession at approximately 60 sessions. In addition, we continued to conduct individually customised training sessions for many of our clients, focusing on their particular operational concerns and in locations best suited to their needs. More than half of AGS's training business involves sessions specifically commissioned by clients and this year we delivered approximately 60 customised sessions to a total of 870 participants from 30 government agencies around Australia.

We also presented the week-long administrative law course, 'Excellence in government decision-making' on 2 occasions. Speakers at these courses included Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler SC, Federal Court Justices Spender, Bennett, Stone and Tracy, and Chief Justice Spigelman and Beazley JA of the New South Wales Supreme Court.

During the year we also began offering legal training services to the private profession, pursuant to a CEO determination made under the Judiciary Act. We also developed a Continuing Professional Development program in response to the increased expectations placed on legal practitioners, for example, in the Australian Capital Territory.

New courses offered

This year saw some new additions to the general courses we offer on an ongoing basis. These were 'Alternative dispute resolution', 'Essentials for government lawyers', 'Managing legal risks and relationships' and 'Cases of distinction'.

AGS and leading ADR organisation LEADR – Association of Dispute Resolvers developed the full-day course 'ADR and the Commonwealth' in response to the Attorney-General's launch of the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council in November 2009. It was offered 3 times during the year. AGS presenters were Andrew Dillon and Andrew Berger.

Some of the feedback we received from this course included:

  • 'The course was extremely informative and provided a wealth of information which shall be extremely useful.'
  • 'Gave good overview of where ADR is headed in Commonwealth'.
  • 'Good mix between the theory behind ADR and practical experiences of both presenters.'

The 3-day course 'Essentials for government lawyers' covered topics such as legal professional privilege, the legislative process and delegated legislation to the life cycle of Commonwealth contracts and grants. In addition, the Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler SC gave a presentation on the role of the government lawyer. A number of AGS lawyers presented at the course, including Justin Hyland, Justin Davidson and Tom Howe QC. Some of the feedback from this course included:

  • 'I would recommend it to any new government lawyer. A good range of speakers and topics and a high degree of skill in the presenters.'
  • 'The focus by the presenters on practical application needed by government lawyers rather than theory was well received.'

We also introduced half-day legal seminars called 'Cases of distinction' which illustrate major principles of administrative law. These seminars, developed and presented by Tim Moe, were offered 6 times during the year and attracted participants from various agencies and private law firms. Feedback from these courses included:

  • 'Easy pace – time to listen and make notes.'
  • 'Concise summaries, analysis etc. Presented with clarity and in a manner that encourages continued attention.'

The great importance AGS places on providing quality legal training is reflected in strategies in our Corporate Plan 2010–13 that aim to enhance this aspect of our business and ensure we continue to meet client training needs.

This is an extract from the 2009–10 AGS annual report