Title: Public Solicitor Office Adviser
Project: Australia Solomon Islands Partnership for Justice
Duration: Fixed, commencing October 2022- October 2024
Location: Honiara, Solomon Islands
Reports to: Deputy Team Leader
The Australia Solomon Islands Partnership for Justice (ASIPJ) is the third program of Australian support to the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) justice sector, being directly preceded by the Australia Solomon Islands Justice Program (ASIJP). Its goal is to work closely with SIG to enable justice agencies to maintain delivery of their existing, core activities while clearly identifying and engaging with fundamental problems and critical issues affecting their ability to contribute to stability and offer access to justice for citizens.
Subject to a finalised design, ASIPJ will be delivered through four key outcome areas: i). improving core service delivery capacity; ii). enhancing capacity for justice sector management and leadership; iii). enhancing collaboration with state and non-state actors to improve access to justice, and iv). increased sensitivity and responsiveness to those vulnerable to family and sexual violence. It is a four-year program with an option to extend to eight years.
ASIPJ aspires to be locally led, problem-oriented and learning driven. It will be pragmatic, practical, and adaptable, and will mainstream gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI). Deloitte is the Managing Contractor, leading an exciting coalition for change that includes Adam Smith International, providing the Operations Hub; Ninti One, for its Indigenous expertise; and The University of Queensland, to support critical research and knowledge generation.
The Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) Adviser will work closely with the Public Solicitor and staff of the PSO. The PSO is a legislatively established, and government funded, public legal office that is responsible for the provision of legal aid, advice and assistance to financially disadvantaged citizens. The predominant practice areas of the office are criminal, civil, family and environmental law.
The PSO Adviser will report to the Public Solicitor and the ASIPJ Deputy Team Leader. He or she will liaise closely with the ASIJP Team Leader, program team and other advisers. The adviser will be based in the PSO Office located in Honiara and from time-to-time will be required to travel to PSO offices located across Solomon Islands.
Summary of Responsibilities
The PSO Adviser will be responsible for:
- Coaching and mentoring junior PSO lawyers, including assisting them with their case preparation and courtroom advocacy
- Playing an active role in PSO lawyers’ professional development, including through the conduct of continuing legal education (CLE) sessions
- Strengthening the organisational and institutional capacity of the PSO
The PSO Adviser will mentor and develop the capacity of individual PSO lawyers to effectively, and with increasing independence over time:
- Research and prepare written and oral advice on criminal, civil, family and environmental matters;
- Review evidence and prepare matters for court;
- draft relevant legal documents such as submissions, applications, statements, draft orders etc.;
- Provide effective advice and assistance to clients in relation to gender-based violence and family law matters, including the provisions of the Family Protection Act;
- Engage and meet with clients and witnesses in an appropriately sensitive manner, including with young people, survivors of gender-based violence and people living with disabilities;
- Interpret relevant statutory provisions, court rulings and judgments;
- Communicate and negotiate effectively with others, including court staff, prosecutors, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, the private bar, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers;
- Ensure that relevant case information is routinely entered in the Justice Information Management System (JIMS).
In undertaking the above, the adviser will, on a regular basis, accompany PSO lawyers to court to observe their appearance work. This will be done with the objective of identifying areas where improvements can be made to lawyers’ case preparation and approach; legal knowledge and practice; and negotiation and advocacy skills.
The adviser will apply observations gleaned from court appearances, together with interactions with individual lawyers, to identify opportunities for more focused mentoring and to tailor appropriate training, continuing legal education (CLE) and professional development opportunities. Under the direction of the Public Solicitor, the adviser will play an active role in developing weekly continuing legal education (CLE) sessions for the cohort of PSO lawyers. These will be orientated towards the practical elements of court appearance work with an underlying focus of improving lawyers case preparation and advocacy.
In addition, working under the direction of the Public Solicitor, the adviser will strengthen the organisational and institutional capacity of the PSO. Amongst other tasks, this will entail:
- Developing and implementing efficient, effective and accountable office processes and policies in support of a productive and professional office environment;
- Strengthening relationships with other justice sector agencies and bodies, particularly the National Judiciary, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Police Prosecutions Department, the Solomon Islands Bar Association, in order to instill a culture of mutual respect, collegiality and professionalism;
- Examining and implementing (as appropriate and agreed) strategies to improve office attendance rates and encourage the attraction and retention of talent within the PSO;
- Working with the ASIPJ Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) Adviser (once engaged) on Solomon Islands’ Justice Sector’s Gender and Social Inclusion Strategy, ensuring that Strategy recommendations relevant to the PSO are prioritised and advanced;
- Collaborating and assisting with the UNDP ‘Access to Justice Project’, to help improve access to justice for Solomon Islands’ citizens, including vulnerable/marginal groups;
- Engaging the ASIPJ JIMS adviser to mainstream and deepen the use of the Justice Information Management System (JIMS) within the PSO, including assisting all relevant staff to enter data in JIMS and use JIMS effectively and encouraging the use of JIMS as a management and performance information and planning tool for the PSO as a whole and for individual staff; and
- Working with relevant ASIPJ staff and advisers and PSO counterparts on matters of communication, data collection and retention, learning and research.
- Other tasks as agreed upon.
In undertaking the above, the adviser will work in a collaborative manner with SIG counterparts, donors, advisers, civil society organisations and others. The adviser will work closely with ASIPJ’s cross-cutting advisers, specifically, those working on professional development, communications, MERL, GEDSI and JIMS.
- Workplan: An individual annual workplan to reflect the contents of this TOR to be completed on a date to be agreed upon.
- Exception reports: as required.
- Exit report, one week prior to completion date: Outlining a concise situational analysis and a frank assessment of the challenges and successes of the adviser’s inputs. The Exit Report should contain recommendations for future ASIPJ engagement with the PSO.
- Regular Program Reporting and GEDSI Reports: as required, including contributing to weekly program updates and briefing DFAT/others as requested.
All reports will be provided to the Deputy Team Leader, ASIPJ.
Reporting and Performance Management
On contractual matters and issues of performance the PSO Adviser will report to the Deputy Team Leader, ASIPJ, who will monitor delivery of outputs in accordance with this TOR and with the adviser’s approved workplan. Concerning his or her daily activities and engagement with SIG counterparts and other partners, the Adviser will report to the Public Solicitor.
A law degree with the ability to practice in a relevant common law jurisdiction.
Key Skills and Experience
This position would be ideally suited to a motivated general practitioner with experience of having worked in a busy public law office in a common law jurisdiction.
The successful applicant for this role will have:
- Extensive experience as a lawyer working in the criminal, family and civil law fields and a background in courtroom advocacy;
- Demonstrated high-level communication skills in a cross-cultural setting, including the capacity to effectively convey complex legal information to non-legal specialists;
- A demonstrated ability to liaise and communicate effectively with people from varied cultural and marginalised backgrounds;
- A demonstrated ability to build the capacity of individuals and teams, including mentoring, coaching and professional development.
- An existing understanding of, or the capacity to quickly acquire an understanding of, the Solomon Islands’ justice system will be necessary.
Provincial travel within Solomon Islands will be required.
ASIPJ advisers are required to adhere to COVID-19 policy requirements for the purposes of entry to Solomon Islands’ government offices. This includes being double vaccinated.
How to apply
Please submit your application before 02 September 2022 11:59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) to: email@example.com and copy Rami Alkhatib at Rami.Alkhatib@adamsmithinternational.com
Please use the following title: Application for PSO Adviser, ASIPJ Program
Applications should include a cover letter of no more than two pages addressing the position selection criteria and a CV of no more than four pages and two professional referees.