The legal department at Kent County Council (KCC) is teaming up with regional firm Geldards to create a single brand for public sector work capable of taking over local authority legal departments.
The organisations will pitch to local authorities under the ’Law:Public’ moniker, targeting work across England and Wales at discounted rates.
KCC director of law and governance Geoff Wild said: “Local authorities know that we’re entering a three-year cycle [from April 2011] in which budgets will be slashed and they’re not going to be able to offer the same level of services. We want to support them.
“We can cover anything that a local authority legal function does. We’ve got the capacity to take over a small district council’s legal needs in toto or to cover bespoke projects.”
Law Society rules on fee-sharing mean that the Law:Public partners will offer differentiated rates. However, in a bid to be attractive, headline work undertaken by KCC will be frozen at £90 per hour until April 2011. Law:Public intends to charge a maximum hourly rate of £150, which will be achieved through an average of KCC’s rates and Geldards’.
The move comes as dozens of authorities in the North West, North East and South of England are teaming up on a regional basis to access advice more cheaply through joint panels.
But Geldards chairman David Williams argued: “Consortia and joint panels are all very well, but they’re relatively anonymous. This led [us] to think how we could do this better - we still offer the personal service, but at an efficient price.”