A partnership set up to share legal services between four south London boroughs is to start employing its first trainees.  

Merton, Kingston, Sutton and Richmond councils formed the 90-strong South London Legal Partnership (SLLP) on 1 October. While none of the individual boroughs had training schemes in place, the partnership will take on two trainees each year from next autumn. 

Merton, which merged its legal team with Richmond in 2011, and where the partnership will be based, will host the trainees. 

The shared services partnership is expected to save the councils £600,000 by 2017. Paul Evans, joint monitoring officer for Merton and Richmond, will head the SLLP team.

Liz Green (pictured), leader of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, said the programme will give Kingston ‘access to a strong pool of lawyers, almost four times bigger than we have now’.

She said: ‘We are stronger together and by sharing our professional expertise we will have an even more efficient and cost-effective service.’

A number of London councils are merging legal services departments to cut overheads. Lambeth and Southwark councils are considering a move to shared legal services, while Barnet and Harrow merged their legal teams last year.