Firms are being invited to bid for a spot on a £320m public sector panel as the government reaches the final stages of restructuring its legal services framework contract in an attempt to cut the cost of external legal advice.

Whitehall procurement agency the Crown Commercial Service announced last year that it wanted to set up a £650m 'legal services marketplace'. Since then, CCS has revised the panel's estimated total value and renamed the commercial vehicle 'wider public sector legal services'.

The panel will comprise five lots: regional service provision (80 suppliers); full service firms (16 suppliers); property and construction (six suppliers); transport rail (five suppliers); and cost lawyer services (four suppliers).

CCS documents state that the wider public sector - including health, education, local and regional government, emergency services, and third sector and social housing organisations - will be able to access regional-based services. Ministerial and non-ministerial central government departments can access regional services if the anticipated fee is £20,000 or less per matter in transactional property work, employment or other litigation.

The latest panel makes up the final 'block' of CCS's programme to restructure the government's legal panels.

Accountancy giant PwC was among 12 'tier one' suppliers to secure a coveted spot on a £400m panel to provide general legal advice services. Eight firms successfully bid for a place on a £50m panel for specialist advice on modernisation projects including Crossrail and High Speed 2. The government opted for major City players, including four magic circle firms, to sit on its £90m finance and highly complex legal advice panel. CCS also managed an e-Disclosure services framework agreement.

The bid submission deadline is 15 June at 3pm. Firms will find out in August if they have been successful in winning a three-year agreement. The panel will come into force later that month.