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The interim head of legal at Durham County Council has left to set up a dedicated public law group at Dickinson Dees.
Linda Walker oversaw the council’s legal function throughout its conversion into a unitary authority, which was completed in April.
Durham was the only one of the nine new unitary councils not to have hired a permanent head of legal by the changeover date of 1 April.
The authority has now appointed its assistant head of legal Colette Longbottom to the role.
Walker joins Dickinson Dees as counsel and head of public law and corporate governance. She will work alongside partner and head of public services Tim Care to set up a team of specialists in public law.
Care said: “By bringing together colleagues from across different practice areas, we’ll be able to work more strategically to deliver a comprehensive service.”
It has also emerged this week that the new leadership of County Durham has slashed the budget for external legal spend to £60,000.
It had previously run into millions for the eight local authorities that make up the new unitary council.