Council lawyer poached by City

Experienced housing solicitor Jo Miller has been head- hunted from her job at Liverpool City Council by City firm Devonshires.

Miller, a senior housing lawyer at Liverpool for the past two years, will join Devonshires in June and advise local authorities on the options for housing their tenants.

Her move comes as the Labour Government prepares to allow councils to spend an estimated £5bn in capital receipts from council house sales dating back to 1980.

Although the money will be released gradually to avoid over-heating the economy, councils are expected to use it to work with the private sector to build new homes under provisions in the 1996 Housing Act.

Miller, who helped formulate the 1996 legislation as part of the Lord Woolf steering group, will be offering legal advice to councils on the best route to take and who to work with.

"I'll be going to London for a few months and then we'll be looking to open an office in the North," said Miller.

Devonshires corporate partner Gareth Hall, whose practice represents more than one hundred housing associations, said there was a gap for a player in the social housing market in the north of England.

Hall added that no final decision had been made as to where or exactly when to open an office.

Miller said she had not wanted to turn from gamekeeper to poacher, so the opportunity to keep working with local authorities appealed, although the financial advantages had played a part in her decision.

She hoped her local government experience at Liverpool and Nottingham councils would help improve communication between public and private sector solicitors.

"Certainly there's a little uncertainty, I think the more cross fertilisation there is the better, as we will understand each others needs," said Miller.