Shared Services series
What are the opportunities and challenges that arise as a result of the shared services changes and how can you help your organisation navigate these?
Jeremy Ford, Chief Legal Advisor at the Earthquake Commission, has been involved in the Crown working group on the shared services changes as well as the ILANZ regulatory sub-committee and says “I imagine private sector in-house lawyers will be most interested by the possibility for potential cost-savings (doing more with less); whereas public in-house will be attracted to the “joined up government” concept.” He has helpfully provided the below perspectives on shared services and crown agencies.
Arrangements between Crown agencies and Client Care obligations
Before legal services are provided across the wider Crown, the agencies involved will need to agree the terms on which these legal services will be provided. This may include terms such the scope of the legal services being provided, any fees or cost recovery arrangements, KPIs, the term of the arrangement, and key contact points within each agency. This agreement will need to be in an appropriate form, such as a Contract for Services/Service Level Agreement, Memorandum of Understanding, or Secondment Agreement including a process for managing potential and actual conflicts. The agreement will need to be approved by representatives of each agency with the appropriate authority and delegation. Agencies are encouraged to share examples and templates with each other.
Each Crown agency will also need to be mindful of its employment obligations to in-house lawyers, and to act reasonably before requiring its lawyers to provide legal services to the wider Crown. This may require agencies to review the employment terms of its lawyers, ensure appropriate indemnities are in place, and ensure the provision of legal advice to the wider Crown is within the agency's powers, functions and appropriations. Consideration will also need to be given to the terms of any insurance cover as it applies to the provision of legal advice to non-employing entities.
Grant Adam, Chief Legal Advisor at NZQA, was involved in the NZLS working group on shared services and also leads the ILANZ regulatory sub-committee. He sees the shared services amendments as providing a number of practical opportunities. These include to cover for an in-house lawyer on leave for a significant time, as part of the professional growth and development of an in-house lawyer, and for smaller agencies (for example in the wider Crown stable) to share a resource base which of each of them could not justify on their own.
The NZLS guidance information and template client care letter are certainly helpful for anyone starting on the shared services journey. No doubt this will be supplemented and updated as time goes on. Users may find the template letter needs adaptation to their particular needs or they may want to re-frame it to suit their circumstances. It is important to remember, however, that there a number of items of content in the template that must be covered in any adapted or re-framed letter - for example if and when fees are charged, whether PI insurance is in place, that the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund does not apply to in-house lawyers and the parties’ agreed procedures for handling complaints.