The newly-established Coal Authority, which this month took over as the industry's regulatory body, has recruited Ian Cartwright as its in-house lawyer.
Cartwright, who has switched from the Potato Marketing Board, is the authority's solicitor and secretary with responsibility for farming out legal work to private practice.
He confirms he is in discussion with English and Scottish firms, but says it is too early to say how the work will be divided. "I'll have to balance speed, convenience and cost."
"At the moment I'm acting as a fireman. There are some things which need a quick response which I can give. But primarily I'm looking to use outside firms as the source of the authority's legal advice."
British Coal Corporation is known to have made use of lawyers from Nabarro Nathanson's Doncaster office in addition to McClure Naismith Anderson & Gardiner in Scotland.
The new coal authority was formally established in September, but rights were transferred from British Coal on 31 October.
The authority, which now owns the country's coal reserves, is responsible for licensing private operators as well as dealing with subsidence damage claims outside current mining areas.
Cartwright, who was articled with Ilkley Urban District Council, went on to oversee the transfer of Northumbrian Water from the public to the private sector in his position as company secretary.