Paralegal Functional Review Consultation Update - Public Service Association

Paralegal Functional Review Consultation Update

PSA members will be aware that the Paralegal Functional Review consultation period has been underway.

The PSA received valuable feedback from members which was anonymized and provided to the Crown Solicitors Office (CSO). If you contributed feedback, thank you. Your feedback has been invaluable to the PSA and the CSO in this workplace change program.

Discussions between your local workplace Delegates, the PSA’s Industrial Staff and the CSO have been ongoing.

In our view, those discussions have been positive and productive. Discussions culminated in CSO providing the PSA with a copy of the all-staff communication emailed on Wednesday, 2024.04.10. That email communicated the next steps in implementation of the Paralegal Functional Review.

Next steps

PSA members directly affected by the Paralegal Functional Review are encouraged to actively participate during the implementation period.

The PSA has requested the CSO undertake information sessions with affected staff to ensure that the process is smooth, and those affected have the best opportunity to progress into the new roles.

The PSA’s position was to advocate for the minimum possible assessment requirements that align with applicable legislative and policy frameworks.

The CSO has listened to concerns raised by PSA members to ensure the recruitment process is not overly onerous. CSO advises it is committed to assisting staff in a smooth transition to the new roles.

Via its consultation with members, the PSA was able to negotiate the following outcomes:

  • Establishment of formal consultation meetings with CSO to provide input on how the paralegal functional review is progressing.

Review dates are: 2024.08.28, 2024.11.27, 2025.02.26 and 2025.05.28.

  • PSA strongly believes that 3- or 6-month contracts provide no job security for members and diminishes development and training opportunities. The CSO has undertaken to offer one-year employment contracts where possible. The
  • The PSA also advocated for greater clarity between the duties for Office Assistants and the new roles. CSO has confirmed that Office Assistant positions will remain in the Agency and that paralegal functional review is not an exercise to diminish or remove those roles.
  • There will be no set FTE for the Law Clerk position. FTE levels will vary depending on business and resourcing levels at the Paralegal and Legal Secretary level.

The PSA believes this is a good outcome in that it maximises the potential for job security for members.

  • Diversity in gaining legal exposure to a wider variety of matters was an important part of the PSA advocating for members.

CSO has agreed to update the draft Paralegal Coordinator Guide to provide greater emphasis on the role of the Performance Development Framework.

The CSO has also agreed that where operationally feasible supporting more opportunities to diversify legal exposure across these new roles will be made available.

Where appropriate, diversification will include shadowing solicitors in court; attending settlement conferences; and possible paralegal swaps within the Division. CSO will look at arranging an expression of interest process in conjunction with operational business requirements.

  • CSO confirms there is no expectation/requirement that Grade IV Solicitors supervise paralegals.

CSO proposes that an Expression of Interest process is implemented for Grade IV solicitors interested in gaining supervisory experience.

  • The PSA raised work overload concerns where practice groups have many paralegals to supervise.

CSO advised that the paralegal coordinator will supervise and support paralegals in the day-to-day provision of legal support. Performance management of paralegals will remain the ultimate responsibility of the relevant Director and HR personnel.

  • The PSA was also concerned about performance management processes for paralegal coordinators.

CSO have listened to your concerns and proposes to implement a recommended ratio (4:1) of 4 paralegals per co-ordinator).

  • The CSO agreed to include a new time code in Elite for time spent supervising paralegals.

The PSA advocated strongly to change the proposed Law Clerk title to something more modern reflecting we are in the 21st century. Regrettably, the CSO would not agree to this concession.

Members are reminded that the recruitment to the new paralegal roles is due to commence. The internal paralegal recruitment timeline is:

  • EOI opens for the Paralegal Clerk Grade 1/2 role on 24 April.
  • EOI closes on 5 May.
  • Comparative assessment period will run from 6-24 May.
  • Offers for the Paralegal Clerk Grade 1/2 role will be made by 10 June 2024.

The PSA will continue to accept feedback from members as the changes are implemented. If you have feedback, please contact the PSA, and make your views known. As reported above, the PSA will regularly meet with CSO as the Paralegal Functional Review implementation progresses.

While the formal consultation period may have concluded, CSO understands that workplaces evolve, and the PSA will continue to provide information and feedback from members when issues or concerns are raised.

Remember, the PSA can only effectively advocate for members if you take the time to provide us with your feedback.

Your Local CSO Delegates are:

Louise Coory

Your PSA Industrial Staff are:

PSA Organiser

Kim Villanti

PSA Industrial Officer

Anthony Wright

PSA Industrial Manager
Thane Pearce

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