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Using the external legal services contract

This page provides step by step instructions on how to use the All-of-Government (AoG) external legal services contract. You may also find additional resources on this page.

Using this contract

  • 1
    Determine your requirements

    Agency requirements are varied and can include:

    • one-off (ad hoc) activities 
    • project-based activities, and 
    • business as usual (BAU) activities.

    You need to decide what your requirement is, and which area of law it falls into to help you shortlist providers. Your requirement will generally be for a single activity that falls clearly into one area of law, but if not you'll need to decide which area is most relevant to your needs.

    Providers work in a variety of ways, depending on your agency’s needs and objectives. We suggest balancing the complexity of the provider selection process against the size and risk level of your requirement.

  • 2
    Decide on a selection process

    Agencies should always aim to get the best value-for-money. Depending on your needs, there are two selection processes to choose from.

    1. Direct selection - where participating agencies select a provider directly from the panel. 
    2. Mini tender - when agencies shortlist more than one provider, then conduct a ‘mini tender’ to seek a quote for the work.
  • 2a
    Direct selection

    In some instances it may be most appropriate to approach a single provider, for example:

    • where a provider is required to provide short term help on a matter worth less than $5,000 (excluding GST) in total
    • where the work is a continuation of a previous piece of work and it’s important to engage the same provider, or it’s more time efficient and cost effective to do so
    • if the provider has unique and specialist expertise or knowledge, such as:
      • specialist knowledge of an agency work programme or initiative
      • particular knowledge of an agency programme or initiative combined with particular networks, eg iwi networks.
    • where an agency has arrangements in place to work with preferred providers, as provided for by the agency’s secondary procurement process. This can be for reasons of efficiency or to support convergence.

    Direct selection process for budgets under $5000

    • Ensure the requirement falls within scope of the ELS contract.
    • Consult the list of providers under the relevant area of law.
    • Gather information – like quality scores and rankings, provider introductions and hourly rates – to help you determine which provider(s) to approach. Consider things like:
      • the size of the provider
      • the location of their team
      • resource levels
      • case studies
      • organisational fit
      • previous work experience, and
      • capabilities.
    • When you’ve made your selection, document your decision in line with your agency’s internal requirements and inform the selected provider using a Legal Services Order (LSO). The LSO should be completed and signed by both parties to confirm the arrangement.
  • 2c
    Buying legal services outside the panel

    In certain circumstances, you can purchase legal services from a provider who is not on the panel. To do this, you must be able to show that there's no suitable panel provider available. For example:

    • if there's a conflict of interest for panel providers in the required area of law and no other panel provider operating in another area can provide the services
    • if the services are in an unusual or specialist area and no panel provider has the depth of experience needed in that area.

    If you want to engage an off-panel provider, make sure you:

    • get sign off from the Chief Legal Advisor (or equivalent) in your agency, and
    • document your decision following your agency's formal process and notify us by email.

    Agencies participating in the ELS contract must provide an annual, off-panel expenditure report. This will help ensure that your agency can report any off-panel engagement.

  • 3
    Confirm the pricing option

    Providers must provide a quote or fixed fee estimate for any matter worth more than $5,000 (excluding GST). They should have enough experience in pricing and delivering services to be able to give you a cost estimate.

    There are various pricing options available under the contract, including:

    • fixed price or capped fee
    • hourly rates
    • secondment rates
    • blended hourly rate
    • retainer
    • volume based discount.
  • 4
    Complete a Legal Services Order (LSO)

    When you've selected a provider from the panel, document your decision in line with your agency's internal requirements using a Legal Services Order (LSO). Check that the supplier is available to undertake the work and has no conflict of interest. The LSO must be completed and signed by both parties to confirm the arrangement and requirements. A template can be found in the contract documents section after logging in.

    Contract documents

    Check your agency's policies to see if these documents need to be stored internally for audit purposes. Email us if you have any questions around using the LSO.

  • 5
    Complete a post engagement survey

    Your provider is required to send you a survey to complete within 10 days of the engagement being completed. It is important that you complete this so that we can continue to monitor the performance of the panel. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions.

    Provider performance All-of-Government contract survey

    End of process

Contract resources

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