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Defence Legal Division is responsible for the provision of legal advice and other legal services to the Australian Defence Force, the Minister of Defence and the Department of Defence.


To provide legal advice, services and support to the command and management of Defence on all aspects of law and the management of legal affairs (apart from matters for which the Judge Advocate General is responsible or are referred to the Defence Legal Panel) and legal advice to members of the ADF.


The Defence Legal Division head office is located in Canberra. Officer representatives are posted to most major commands, formations and organisations around Australia. Defence Legal is consisted of Permanent and Reserve Navy, Army and Air Force legal officers (with the exception of legal officers posted to the Inspector General of the ADF and Office of the Judge Advocate General). Defence Legal also includes all Defence civilian legal officers and paralegal officers.

Defence Legal Division is a national specialist integrated legal organisation.

As a part of the Associate Secretary Group, the Division provides legal and other support to all Services and Groups in Defence. Defence Legal head office is located in Canberra.  Defence Legal is staffed by 127 Permanent ADF legal officers, 40 Australian Public Service (APS) legal officers and 85 APS paralegals and other support staff.  Approximately 103 of these personnel are located outside our Canberra headquarters, at ADF Commands, bases and units around Australia.  Other ADF legal officers serve Australia on deployment and exchange postings overseas.  In addition, 384 active Navy, Army and Air Force Reserve legal officers complement the work of permanent ADF legal officers, Australia wide and beyond.

Both in peacetime and during sustained operations, Defence Legal is vital (as an in-house corporate service) to the effectiveness of the ADF and to prudent management and administration of the Defence organisation as a whole. In acting on Defence Legal advice, Defence has avoided many difficult situations and reduced or eliminated its potential liability in many others.

A primary focus of Defence Legal work, in both Canberra and the Regions, is on operations law including humanitarian law. Other important fields of focus, particularly in peacetime, are administrative law and discipline laws, together with international agreements and arrangements and legal advice on a range of matters. Collectively, these are areas critical to the operation of the ADF, as distinct from ADF operations. Defence Legal’s approach in these fields is either pro-active or in direct response to our clients’ requests.