Council ‘co-sources’ from law firm amid cuts

Topics: In-house,Local Government

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A London local authority has formed an innovative partnership with a law firm in the hope of achieving bigger savings amid swingeing budget cuts.

Enfield council has announced that national firm Browne Jacobson will be a ‘co-source’ partner in its contracts and commercial team. Under the arrangement, one of Browne Jacobson’s solicitors will be seconded to the team, initially for two years.

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The council’s announcement states that the partners will work to review ‘how legal advice can be tailored to meet the council’s requirements with the many exciting projects it is working on’.

The arrangement covers the contract and commercial aspects of the council’s legal services ‘that previously would have been sourced through external providers, and will see the [firm] work with council lawyers on those areas of advice that continue to be delivered directly’.

Councillor Andrew Stafford, cabinet member for finance and efficiency at the council, said: ‘Local government budgets have been squeezed more than ever before and it is vitally important we get the best possible legal advice.

‘This deal will expand the expert knowledge base available to the council and increase our ability to react quickly and appropriately to a wide range of challenges.’

The relationship is not exclusive, Browne Jacobson partner Craig Elder told the Gazette.

Proposals put forward by the firm, which has worked with the local authority since December 2014, include improving the way internal clients instruct legal officers, for example engaging with them earlier. He said: ‘Legal officers are not just there to tick boxes or put a seal on something.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • '..... the many exciting projects it is working on'.

    And will Browne Jacobson be providing legal advice on the even greater number of boring projects that occupy the majority of the time of a local authority? Or is this just more media hyperbole?

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  • Is this an ABS then or a 'partnership' ? I wasn't aware you could partner non solicitors ? If it's an ABS are Council Tax payers funding the PII thus giving the entity a competive advantage over solicitors in practice, who have to fund their own PII ? Competition issue ? Does anybody care ?

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  • As a LA Solicitor, with many years of also working in private practice, I believe the quality of work; high level TUPE, re-organisations, formulating strategies is better in Local Government, with the added bonus that you are serving the public rather than your own pocket. The political element also adds interest.

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