A London council is bringing legal work back in-house from a panel of external firms, bucking the national trend towards public sector outsourcing.
The London Borough of Islington will handle its own insurance legal work from August as part of a wider programme of insourcing services. The work is currently outsourced to a panel of firms which is shared with other London councils.
Deputy monitoring officer Peter Fehler said the council’s insourcing strategy led to more work for the legal team. ‘We would have seen a decrease in employment work because of the introduction of tribunal fees,’ Fehler said. ‘Because we have insourced services, our work has remained steady, if not increased.’
Fehler said legal services would remain within the council and there were no current plans for an alternative business structure.
Meanwhile the council has set up business arm iCo, which plans to start trading in June with an initial focus on consulting on energy and regeneration.
Over the past five years the council has had to make £95m worth of cuts, including shrinking the legal team from 90 in 2010 to 65 today.
Fehler said a shared legal services arrangement was considered last year but the council decided to keep legal services in-house.
Islington has also set up a legal services marketing group to generate income. This has seen Uma Mehta, chief lawyer, community services, providing training on childcare reforms to family judges.