Essex county council's in-house legal services team has rebranded in a bid to compete for larger contracts from external clients to close the council's funding gap. 
Essex Legal Services, established as a trading service in 1998, will now be known as ELS, the council said.

Shirley Jarlett, assistant director, said: “Beneath the change from Essex Legal Services to ELS has been a deep-rooted transformation which has strengthened our ability to diversify into new markets, take on larger contracts and work with more local authorities outside Essex.'

The council declined to comment on whether the venture will be spun of as an alternative business structure, a route taken by several local authorities over the past year. A local government thinktank reported in April that a quarter of English councils currently generate external income from legal services and that a further 43% are considering doing so. 

ELS's specialist practice areas include child care proceedings, health, adult social care, education, employment, personal injury claims, litigation and property transactions.
 The council said that venture's mission is 'to serve the public sector and its clients to the highest standard at an appropriate cost that is lower than the credible competition'.