AGS ADELAIDE

Level 5, 101 Pirie Street

 

Adelaide Skyline

 

Since 1942, when a Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office was first established in Adelaide, AGS has provided services to Commonwealth clients in South Australia.

 

AGS Adelaide's work is a mixture of dispute resolution and commercial work. The dispute resolution work includes administrative law, taxation, workers' compensation, information protection, employment and personal injury claims and the office works with more than 30 agencies. Other work includes leasing and water conveyancing, Indigenous land use agreements, compulsory land acquisition processes, debt-recovery and work on significant national projects.

Our lawyers are found working in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court and High Court and in State courts and tribunals.

After its recent move to Pirie Street, the office now provides our valued South Australian clients significantly improved space and technology in its meeting rooms, including better videoconferencing facilities and improved wireless technology.

Rodger Prince

Director: Rodger Prince

Rodger is experienced in dispute management and resolution, with a particular focus on government, administrative and industrial law. During his career with AGS he has worked for a wide range of clients on matters across Australia.

Michelle Rothall

Michelle Rothall
Legal Assistant
AGS Commercial

'I was lucky enough to fall into a job in the legal field when I was living in Darwin in my mid-20s and I have never looked back. The work is varied and interesting. It is a great career choice for anyone looking to work in administration. It is a good feeling knowing that the projects you and your colleagues are working on can positively impact Australians in their everyday lives.'

Molly Scanlon

Molly Scanlon
Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'I started working in government law, having come from an insurance litigation background. I made the move because I wanted to use my legal skills to work on matters which impact the public interest and which have meaning within the Australian democracy. I take a lot of value from the fact that my work with AGS has a broader role to play in the functioning of the Australian legal system.'

Michael La Vista

Michael La Vista
Senior Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'The most challenging matters tend to be those against unrepresented litigants. They are often without legal training but have the ability, at times, to lead arguments contrary to the norm. Whilst not always correct, or on point, such arguments provide an opportunity to develop as a lawyer, as they require you to be prepared for anything, not what you come to expect from represented litigants.'

Alexandra Monk

Alexandra Monk
Senior Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'My most challenging matter to date has been working for the Department of Defence on the project to acquire land in South Australia to expand the existing Cultana training area. It was an extremely demanding matter. I worked on it on a day-to-day basis from 2009 until 2014. It was also very complex, involving a plethora of different legal issues (native title, lands acquisition, mining, funding, contracting and property issues, just to name a few) and many stakeholders (including the State, 4 Aboriginal groups, pastoralists, infrastructure holders and several government agencies). However, with a lot of perseverance, patience and commitment, the expansion was successfully achieved, which was very satisfying.'

 

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AGS BRISBANE

Level 11, 145 Ann Street

 

Brisbane River and CBD

It was 1942 when a Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office was first created in Brisbane. Since then, AGS has provided services to Commonwealth clients in Queensland.

From 1944, there were even offices in Townsville and Rockhampton as well, though they were gone by 2002 when AGS's Townsville office closed.

With about 40 client organisations, AGS Brisbane has numerous litigation practice areas, working regularly for the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Comcover, Customs, Comcare and the Attorney-General's Department. The office's commercial lawyers work on property matters, including leasing in telecommunications.

Jane Lye

Director: Jane Lye

Director of AGS Brisbane since February 2013, Jane has worked extensively on tax litigation since 2010 and has specialist expertise in judicial review matters, acting in applications, trials and appeals brought before the courts, including the High Court. She provides specialist advice on administrative law matters, including freedom of information and privacy.

Lindsay Cooper

Lindsay Cooper
Senior Lawyer,
AGS Dispute Resolution

'I decided to become a practising lawyer after working at the Queensland Flood Commission. Prior to this time, I wasn't certain about how I wanted to use my law degree. However, the Commission was a positive experience during which I had the opportunity to work with exceptional practitioners. The most satisfying aspect of working with government is having sophisticated clients who share our motivation in pursing correct legal outcomes.'

Tim Foley

Tim Foley
Senior Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'Since primary school I've had a strong interest in public speaking and debating so, as I grew older, it gradually solidified in my mind that a career in law would be a natural fit for my skills and interests. Plus I was a sucker for the romance of practising law as personified in films such as A Few Good Men and Presumed Innocent. If only I'd known the truth! The role at AGS presented me with a great opportunity to appear in court on a regular basis, on behalf of the Commonwealth, in interesting, complex and varied matters and for government clients who were experienced in litigation, so I jumped at it and 10 years later I haven't looked back. I like the fact that governments come and go but it never alters the fact that we always strive to provide the highest quality service to our clients as a model litigant.'

Maree Ferguson

Maree Ferguson
Senior Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'The most interesting client matter I have worked on is an airport matter where our client was looking at reclaiming land from the adjoining sea, building a sea wall and having free-floating lights anchored into the sea bed. It was a novel idea, both difficult and challenging, not only with all the usual property law issues but also involving competing legislative and policy regimes to be examined. I felt a real sense of accomplishment once our advice was finalised, because we were able not only to successfully navigate these waters with the client, but also to come up with a clear strategic pathway for our client to achieve its goals. Seeing a project coming to fruition and knowing that you had a small role to play in something bigger that benefits the community at large is a very personally fulfilling aspect of my work.'

Ashleigh Bull

Ashleigh Bull
Paralegal
AGS Commercial

'Knowing that you have helped someone achieve their dream of owning a home or growing their business or assisted farmers in achieving greater water efficiency, which in turn improves our river systems and the overall surrounding environment, is rewarding. The most challenging work I currently undertake and have worked on is water conveyancing. Working across various jurisdictions, I need to understand the different requirements for each State and also within the different regions of each State. For example, in Queensland there are different types of water that can be transferred to the Commonwealth, being supplemented or unsupplemented water allocations, overland flows or groundwater, with each having their own set of unique legal and physical requirements. The work is certainly never boring and definitely keeps you on your toes.'

 

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AGS CANBERRA

4 National Circuit, Barton

 

Canberra from Mt Ainslie

In 1925 the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor's Office, initially based in Melbourne, opened a branch in Canberra, prior to the whole office moving to Canberra in 1927 on the opening of the provisional Parliament House.

It accompanied the transfer of much Commonwealth infrastructure from Melbourne to Canberra at that time. In 1958 a Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office was also created in Canberra City which, in 2000, was consolidated with the Barton-based central office to become one AGS Canberra office. There was also briefly, from 1985, a Crown Solicitor's sub-office at the Australian Bicentennial Authority.

AGS Canberra is the only office that houses all 3 practices. Office of General Counsel (OGC) lawyers are based in Canberra, though they are often engaged in projects around the country. The Canberra office serves a range of clients, including all departments of state, as well as most of the national security agencies (including the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and the national collecting institutions (the archives, library, galleries and museums). Our advocates and counsel regularly appear in the High Court.

The office hosts a number of training and client events, for which we are well equipped, with a good number of meeting and training rooms. We regularly link up to other AGS offices through videoconferencing facilities. The office also houses the combined AGD and AGS Library.

Louise Vardanega PSM

Chief Operating Officer: Louise Vardanega PSM

Louise Vardanega PSM was appointed Chief Operating Officer of AGS in June 2009, and she has overall responsibility for the performance of the national legal practice. She also heads AGS Canberra. Louise joined AGS in 1975 and is well known across government for her passionate commitment to excellent client service.

Sarah Wright

Sarah Wright
Senior Executive Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'I believe very strongly in fairness and integrity. The most interesting client matter I've worked on was litigation to ensure a vocational education provider that was exploiting vulnerable people ceased operating. On top of having a team and clients that worked like a well-oiled, finely tuned machine, there was all the drama of an episode of LA Law. The drama started with opposing counsel opening by quoting Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream'. The real highlight though was that I saw the most honest witnesses I've ever seen. Apart from all the principled reasons, the aspect of government work I find most satisfying is simply making sure government money isn't wasted, but goes to the people and causes entitled to it.'

Yvonne Suter

Yvonne Suter
National Manager
Library Services

'My law library career has been in a large variety of private and public sector libraries around Australia – a large part spent in AGD and AGS. I found that, every time I left AGS to try something new, I looked forward to returning to the quality of work, the colleagues and the clients. I have really enjoyed developing the Canberra library collection to the exact needs of clients, often sourcing materials from secondhand bookshops worldwide. Procurement and contract negotiation became an unexpected skill. The most enjoyable work to all library staff is in partnering with lawyers to obtain whatever information is needed in their work. I feel very privileged in my role, leading such a committed team.'

Elizabeth Southwood

Elizabeth Southwood
Counsel
AGS Office of General Counsel

'Early in my university studies I discovered (somewhat unexpectedly) that I found the law completely fascinating. I worked out pretty quickly that I had a particular passion for public law, and constitutional law in particular, and that government legal practice offered the best opportunity to pursue that passion. AGS is the place to be, if you want to work on a very diverse range of challenging matters. Being a lawyer to government involves a uniquely interesting mix of work. It is technically and legally complex, but also has a very practical application to the real-world challenges of government – the matters that we work on affect the lives of all Australians.'

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson
Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'Like most lawyers, I was told as a child that I would be a great lawyer because I never stopped arguing. It wasn't until I was older and finishing school that it occurred to me that I could actually do it. It turns out that there's actually less arguing involved than I thought, but that's probably for the best – arguing is hard work! Working as a lawyer for government adds an extra dimension to the work, which adds complexity and variety. I wanted to work in an area where I could do things which were interesting and each day would be different.'

David Lewis

David Lewis
Senior General Counsel
AGS Office of General Counsel

'I really enjoy the 'big picture' aspect of constitutional law, and government is a great place to work on constitutional law. And I also like the range of subject matters that are covered by government legal practice. My career peaked early. As a baby lawyer I worked on the 1999 republic and preamble referendums on a taskforce at PM&C. It was extremely interesting for a constitutional lawyer to work on possible changes to the Constitution. I got to learn about all types of aspects of the constitution (including the Governor-General's reserve powers, where they can act without the advice of the government) and also got a close-up view of how the processes of government work (in the unusual situation where some government members supported a 'yes' vote on the republic and others a 'no' vote). It also involved working with some other great government lawyers and public servants. And it was high profile, so the stakes were high. It is most satisfying working with colleagues and clients who are friendly, smart, and generally trying to work for a better future, at least in some small way.'

Nathan Sinnathurai

Nathan Sinnathurai
Senior Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'More often than not, our matters (whether small or large) have consequences which extend beyond resolving the dispute itself – either as a significant precedent, or because the matter is a strategic part of government policy or function. It is a privilege to practise law in the public interest.'

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes
Senior Executive Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'The best thing about practising government commercial law is working on a constant stream of really innovative and unique projects for clients, and alongside colleagues, who are so dedicated to serving Australia's public interests. One of the most interesting and challenging matters I have worked on while at AGS was assisting the Commonwealth to prepare and negotiate Australian Water Management Partnership Agreements with Murray–Darling Basin States, which dealt with the funding and implementation of a large number of water infrastructure projects valued at more than $1 billion in total. Other highlights have included assisting clients to develop the contracts for the rollout of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation in schools across Australia, the funding of the Royal Flying Doctor Foundation and the implementation of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.'

 

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AGS HOBART

Level 8, 188 Collins Street

 

Hobart

In 1944, a Legal Service Bureau was opened in Hobart, and in 1956, a Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office was established that ultimately became AGS Hobart.

AGS Hobart's clients include the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Comcare, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Department of Finance, the Attorney-General's Department, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Taxation Office and Indigenous Business Australia, as well as the Australian Antarctic Division.

The work of the office includes appearing before a range of courts and providing advice on and conducting Administrative Appeals Tribunal reviews, mainly in the area of workers' compensation and military compensation, but also in other areas of administrative law generally, including social security, immigration, citizenship and freedom of information.

David Wilson

Director: David Wilson

Director of AGS Hobart since 2012, David has extensive expertise in administrative and civil law matters. He has conducted litigation matters in the areas of migration and child support matters, trade practices law, employment law, discrimination law, veterans' entitlements, personal injury and contract litigation.

 

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AGS DARWIN

Level 9, 9–11 Cavenagh Street

 

Darwin

Since 1944, Darwin has had a Legal Service Bureau that, through various restructures and name changes, became the small but dynamic AGS Darwin office. AGS Darwin's lawyers are involved in areas that cross both commercial and dispute resolution work.

AGS Darwin's local client base includes Defence Housing Australia (DHA), Indigenous Business Australia, Aboriginal Hostels Limited, Charles Darwin University, Immigration, Finance, Defence and the Northern Territory Government. AGS Darwin is also involved in providing pro bono services to the Darwin Community Legal Service.

Current work includes acting for DHA in its property purchases, disposals and leasing program and for the Breezes Muirhead development in Darwin, which involves the development of over 1,000 lots of land. Other work includes various litigation matters in the Darwin local courts and the Federal Circuit Court. The team is also dealing with various other property law, procurement and commercial contracting issues, and issues in employment law and statutory interpretation. Sometimes, we are involved in transfers of land from the Commonwealth to the Northern Territory Government, following the settlement of land claims. We also act in applications for reviews of decisions made.

Mieke Dixon

Director: Mieke Dixon
Senior Lawyer
AGS Commercial

Director of AGS Darwin since 2014, Mieke has over 10 years of experience in general commercial law, including tendering processes, contract drafting, risk allocation and management, securities law including in the personal property securities regime, and property acquisitions, disposals and leasing.

'When I was an Associate to the Honourable Justice Nicholson AO at the Federal Court, the AGS lawyers were the best to deal with and, in my view, among the most professional. The variety of areas of work that AGS has expertise in also appealed (no pun intended!) and I wanted to be a part of a national organisation that worked with agencies looking to promote the betterment of our communities. I enjoy working with government because I appreciate the framework in which it operates. Everything is to be legally defensible, transparent, to the highest standard possible and with the overall purpose that it is to benefit the public in some way. I am able to work with a wide range of highly skilled lawyers who are experts at what they do and actually embrace the open-door policy to ensure we give the best possible advice to clients.'

Kelly Chambers

Kelly Chambers
Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'At the risk of sounding trite, I've always wanted to be a lawyer as I love the law. It's complex, ever-changing and fascinating and it penetrates all aspects of life. So a role as a paralegal seemed like the perfect position while I completed my law studies (which are now done and I am admitted as a lawyer to the NT Supreme Court). One of my favourite matters I've been involved in (albeit on the periphery) is the Kenbi Land Claim. It is the longest Aboriginal land claim in Australia's history and has been going for approximately 37 years. While AGS Darwin is involved to assist with property law issues associated with the land claim, it has been a fantastic experience to be involved in negotiations and especially to learn the history of the land claim.'

Rebecca Dunbar

Rebecca Dunbar
Legal Administrative Assistant
AGS Commercial

'I decided to apply for this position in 2015 when I was halfway through my law degree, as I wanted experience in a legal office before graduating. This job has worked well around my studies and has provided me with a wealth of skills and experience in a legal environment. The most satisfying aspect of working in government is the feeling that you are one of the many cogs in the larger mechanism that work in such a rich variety of matters.'

 

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AGS MELBOURNE

Level 34, 600 Bourke Street

 

Melbourne skyline

Our AGS Melbourne office had its origins in 1903 as the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor's Office, until the Commonwealth Parliament relocated to Canberra in 1927. The Melbourne office then became a Deputy Crown Solicitor's Office, and subsequently AGS Melbourne. It now has over 100 practitioners and support staff, servicing the needs of Victorian-based and national Commonwealth clients.

Dispute resolution matters account for about 75% of AGS Melbourne's work, with the other 25% comprising commercial work. AGS Melbourne is home to a range of major litigation matters with local and interstate teams, including complex tax litigation, high-profile civil penalties cases and significant judicial and merits review matters, as well as smaller matters. Our lawyers handle litigation before the Federal Court and High Court, as well as in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Circuit Court, and Victorian courts, and advise clients on all aspects of investigations, exercise of statutory powers and negotiated alternatives to litigation.

AGS Melbourne's commercial matters include leasing and property matters and commercial transactions for a wide range of Commonwealth agencies. We are also involved in major projects, including the second Sydney Airport project and a number of significant Defence procurements.

AGS Melbourne also holds our Legal Technology Solutions Team, which works closely with AGS Dispute Resolution for all electronic case-management needs nationwide.

Katrina Close

Director: Katrina Close

Our new Director of AGS Melbourne, Katrina manages our Civil Regulation team within AGS Dispute Resolution and coordinates our internal Competition and Consumer Law Network. She practises in complex civil penalties litigation, specialising in competition and consumer law matters.

Matthew Crowley

Matthew Crowley
Senior Executive Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'The most satisfying aspect of working with government is that, when there are successful litigation outcomes, the results flow to many people in the community, rather than to just one client. I have worked for and with the ACCC for many years and I believe the ACCC's work benefits all Australian consumers. The most exciting and satisfying matter I have worked on recently was a High Court appeal on behalf of the ACCC. It was exciting because I worked with the Solicitor-General, as well as a great legal team. It was satisfying as not only was the ACCC's appeal successful but also it was an important decision, determining that penalties imposed for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law should be set at levels that deter future breaches. It is a matter that will hopefully have far-reaching consequences for consumers.'

Teresa Miraglia

Teresa Miraglia
Senior Executive Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'Unlike any other field of practice, working within government has the potential to touch the lives of our community in a tangible and real way while at the same time having an underlying purpose of delivering public benefit. In one matter we sought to secure the repayment of a multi-million-dollar tax debt through a range of real property securities. This was particularly interesting and challenging because of the complex corporate structure surrounding the security being offered.'

Paul Tamburro

Paul Tamburro
Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'I enjoyed studying law at university but my first job after graduation was a business role. After a year in that position, I decided that I was more interested in working as a lawyer. There are a range of interesting matters and areas of law that are unique to government – I get to be involved in work that isn't available to lawyers in private practice.'

 

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AGS PERTH

Level 19, Exchange Tower, 2 The Esplanade

 

Perth

A Deputy Crown Solicitor's (DCS) Office was first established in Perth on 12 January 1942. The DCS Perth office and AGS Perth have effectively provided services to Commonwealth clients in Western Australia since then.

Perth-based lawyers are often involved in litigation and dispute resolution in the Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Court, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, WA State courts and the High Court. Much of their work is in the area of administrative law, involving judicial and merits review of decisions refusing and cancelling visas and a wide range of tax appeals and technical matters. They are involved in complex debt-recovery matters and conduct a large number of routine bankruptcy and winding-up applications. Working for some of Australia's largest tenants on leasing land throughout Australia and a number of other property-based functions, our commercial lawyers also practise in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is headquartered in Perth and regulates the health and safety, well integrity and environmental management of offshore petroleum industry activities in Commonwealth waters. Our work for them covers advice on and assistance in prosecutions, investigations, their powers, employment, privacy, freedom of information and civil penalties.

Peter Macliver

Director: Peter Macliver

Peter provides high-level advocacy and advising services in the areas of administrative law, migration law, protection of information, statutory interpretation, environmental law and claims by and against the Commonwealth. He has acted in a number of high-profile immigration cases, including in the High Court.

Alyce Jefferies

Alyce Jefferies
Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'I never decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I think it may have chosen me. I started studying law because I found many of the topics available in the law faculty to be more stimulating than my original study choice (journalism) and also had an interest in human rights law. Today, working at AGS, I find the variety of work is even more stimulating than in my university days and I have had some opportunities to volunteer and participate in human rights work because of my choice.'

Solene Yik Long

Solene Yik Long
Senior Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'We successfully prosecuted a person for offences under the Customs Act for importing in his baggage, and also in the baggage of his travelling companion, a number of electric shock devices (tasers) that he had dismantled and concealed. Working with Customs to locate the additional evidence we needed to prove the defendant was actually travelling with someone else who had the missing parts of the tasers was fun and a great experience. It was also quite exciting when one of our witnesses (a Customs officer) was able to re-assemble one of the tasers from all the various pieces and demonstrate at the trial the true form and purpose of the items that had been imported. The defendant appealed his conviction and sentence, and we were successful again in winning the appeal. We advise and act for a diverse group of clients in matters that can be sensitive to national security, and involve federal criminal proceedings and advising on the investigation of Commonwealth offences. It can be very exciting and challenging – and ultimately rewarding – to do something that is in the public interest, and to work on these matters with a lot of great people.'

Teresa Ling

Teresa Ling
Senior Executive Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'I was attracted to government law after a long career in the private sector where I worked for a couple of big law firms in Sydney and later in Perth. Government work is all about the public interest, and I wanted to be part of something that is able to make a difference to the general public across the country. The most satisfying aspect of working with government is the recognition that government lawyers and bodies must act in accordance with the model litigant policy to ensure fairness in the handling of claims and litigation. This fits in very much with my own personal ideology of fairness, honesty, service and empathy. The other satisfying aspects are the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting cases and issues, and working in an office which has a collaborative and collegial environment, because we are all on the same team serving the same client.'

Scott Slater

Scott Slater
Senior Lawyer
AGS Commercial

'I had worked in private practice for 10 years, and many people from my then firm had moved to AGS and spoke glowingly about the work environment. I found it a good balanced environment – people worked hard but had fun. I worked on a project involving the privatisation of the Christmas Island fuel supply which involved advising in many areas of the law, travelling and interacting with the client and the contractor and its lawyers. Work for the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations involved travel to remote areas and was interesting. Work with the defence forces on various matters, including the privatisation of garrison support services, allowed me to develop good relationships with defence personnel at all levels. The most satisfying aspects of working with government are having time to develop expertise in specific areas of the law and creating longstanding relationships and friendships with clients.'

 

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AGS SYDNEY

Level 42, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place

 

Sydney

In 1906, the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor's Office created its first State office in Sydney under a Clerk-in-Charge – a role that, in 1918, became a Deputy Crown Solicitor. AGS Sydney has effectively been providing services to Commonwealth clients in New South Wales since then. Over the years, there were branch offices in Newcastle and Wollongong (both from 1944), a sub-office at the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (from 1951 to 1970) and a branch at Parramatta (in 1991).

With over 100 employees, AGS Sydney has a broad range of large and small clients, based in Sydney and Canberra, and with litigated matters in all courts and tribunals, including the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court, Supreme Court and High Court.

The main areas of law practised are dispute resolution and litigation, including tax technical litigation and advice, personal and corporate insolvency, civil penalties litigation, debt-recovery litigation and advice, judicial and merits review of citizenship and visa decisions, competition and consumer litigation; and commercial work ranging from property to procurement, leasing, grants, agreements and contracts.

Current significant matters include the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Lindt Café Siege Inquest, Badgery's Creek second Sydney Airport tenant litigation, AUSTRAC Tabcorp civil penalty matter, ACCC and Commonwealth action against private training colleges, and ATO Uber tax litigation.

Megan Pitt

Director: Megan Pitt
National Manager Pro Bono Services

As Director, Megan has managed the office for 22 years. For 12 years she has been the Chair of the Australian Government Leadership Network (NSW). For 7 years she has convened AGS's Corporate Commonwealth Entities Legal Network, a national network of 127 General Counsel and senior lawyers from 50 Commonwealth entities. Megan organises AGS's Alumni program nationally.

Simon Konecny

Simon Konecny
Deputy General Counsel Commercial
AGS Commercial

'The ATO decentralisation project in the mid-'90s was my first large-scale transactional project at AGS. It required the procurement of approximately 150,000 square metres of office space around the country for the ATO. Procurements ranged from pre-commitments in purpose-built buildings to taking up space in existing buildings. The excitement and challenge arose from the need to work as part of a multidisciplinary team, including the client, property consultants, architects and financial advisers. I learnt so much about a variety of issues, ranging from procurement strategy to building issues, financial issues and lease structuring. It was one of those formative experiences that you never forget. Working for government, there is one tangential aspect that may sound a little old-fashioned but I find satisfying is that AGS acts in the public interest. Although all lawyers must act professionally and in the interests of their clients, it helps to know that their clients are acting in the public interest.'

Blake Ross

Blake Ross
Legal Assistant
AGS Commercial

'The most interesting matter I have assisted with at AGS is the Western Sydney Airport project. It is interesting and exciting to provide legal support in a large-scale project, which requires coordination from all 3 AGS practices (with lawyers and staff in many different locations) to deal with various complex legal issues related to the construction of Western Sydney Airport.'

Ben May

Ben May
Senior Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'I've been lucky enough to work on many memorable matters but, if I had to pick the one that sticks out the most, it would be a long-term outpost at ASIC with a number of AGS colleagues working on one of the Commission's big litigations. It was a massive project and sometimes it was very challenging, but working with the team of ASIC, AGS and contracted staff was just outstanding РI made some really strong friendships that have lasted until today. It might sound a little clich̩d, but personally I think there is a real sense of working together for the public good Рultimately, AGS is here to help our clients deliver for the public, and it can be very satisfying to contribute to that.'

Emma Whan

Emma Whan
Senior Executive Lawyer
AGS Dispute Resolution

'The Hua Wang Bank series of cases was referred to by Justice Perram as a 'litigation festival'. The cases were interesting for a number of reasons, not only because the main case eventually made it to the High Court but, because of the dozens of interlocutory applications, appeals and applications for judicial review that arose. These sideshows covered almost every aspect of litigation practice – from the use of illegally-obtained evidence to contempt of court, video-link evidence, suppression orders, freezing orders, res judicata, issue estoppel and implied undertakings, to name but a few. The most satisfying thing about working in government is working with great people. Also, the ability to sleep at night. Working in the area of tax law, I feel far more comfortable working for those who try to collect tax than those who dedicate their careers to avoiding it. I have been asked by lawyers who represent 'taxpayers' whether I would consider working for the 'dark side' (their words, not mine), but I just can't see myself as Darth Vader.'

 

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AGS FACTS AND FIGURES

Outposts

The demand for in-house support continues to grow with over a third of AGS staff, at all levels from paralegals to special counsel, outposted throughout 2016.

Over the past 8 years, we have filled well over 450 outpost positions across more than 40 agencies. Many of these placements have been long term and performed at the equivalent of Head of Legal or General Counsel positions.

We tailor an outpost arrangement to meet clients' unique needs. An AGS outposted lawyer or team of lawyers can work as a member of an in-house legal team or as an in-house legal team, in a line area or as a member of a special project team, or any combination of these options.

Training

AGS Training Services trained over 2,000 Commonwealth employees in almost every State and Territory in a wide range of legal areas in 2016. Our courses on administrative law, statutory interpretation, the legislative process, freedom of information (FOI) and privacy continue to be very popular with clients and are rated highly by them. Our 3-day flagship course, 'Essentials for the government lawyer', is being presented in a new format and has been extremely successful. We have introduced some new training about spending the Commonwealth's money after important changes in the law in this area, and this has been much sought-after as well.

In addition to our standard courses, we develop a large amount of training for our clients which is tailored to their specific needs. We also deliver training for a few weeks each year on a pro bono basis for government lawyers in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

Further training opportunities are our series of Government Law Groups (1-hour and 1 CLE/CPD point seminars) after work around the country and 1-day or half-day national forums in Canberra on particular legal areas like administrative law, constitutional law, employment law, civil penalties, intellectual property, FOI and privacy, information technology, and property and infrastructure.

Pro bono work

Since 2002, AGS lawyers have used their professional skills to serve the public interest, both through their work across government and in supporting community interests though pro bono work – and since 2006 it has become an integral part of AGS's activities.

We undertake an extensive pro bono program covering clients across Australia and internationally. AGS's pro bono work increased in 2015–16, with lawyers placed in public interest clearing houses, law referral schemes and community legal organisations. We also had greater involvement in project and international work, including our well-established training courses for lawyers of the Papua New Guinea Department of Justice and Attorney General. In total, AGS lawyers provided 7,733 hours of work, valued at $2,901,670.

So far, to the end of the third quarter in 2016–17, we have recorded 4,827 hours of work, valued at $1,550,000.

AGS can only undertake pro bono work that involves acting for a person or body for whom AGS can act in accordance with its functions and powers as provided for under its enabling legislation, the Judiciary Act 1903. AGS does not undertake pro bono work in any matter against a Commonwealth agency or where there is an unacceptable potential for conflict of interest for government clients.

Did you know?

1/3 of AGS lawyers were on outpost sometime in 2016

63 Average number of lawyers on outpost per month

121 Number of people outposted during 2016

161 training courses presented

2:3 2 training courses presented every 3 working days on average

4,600+ Commonwealth employees trained, from almost every State and Territory.

 

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