A FORMER Legal Aid Board (LAB) manager has set himself up as a legal aid franchise consultant to coach firms which want to compete for franchises.
After 10 years working as area manager of Manchester's LAB, Geoff Thompson's first test will be to secure a legal aid franchise for Manchester firm Abney Garsden McDonald.
Thompson, who left the LAB in April, has joined the firm on a part-time basis and will also help to handle a major child abuse case in the area.
He said the way files are reviewed, the type of information given to clients and methods of choosing experts are all important when seeking a franchise.
Thompson said that the LAB had changed to an "unrecognisable" degree since he joined. "It has made strides in terms of efficiency and the speed with which it takes decisions," he said. But he added he wanted to "seek a new challenge".
Garsdens is the coordinating solicitors for a group of more than 100 solicitors acting for 140 victims of sexual abuse at five children's homes in Cheshire and Merseyside between 1964 and 1993. The victims are claiming compensation and are also seeking a public enquiry into the incidents.
Thompson's position at the Manchester LAB office has been filled by Peter Nelson, who has moved from the private health sector.