Susan Orrell is city solicitor at Manchester City Council.
This is a timely piece of work in view of the organisational and management changes which local authority legal practices are currently facing. Its purpose is to assist local authorities and their chief legal advisers to cope with the implementation of CCT. The scope of the handbook, however, is far wider than this.
Christopher Robinson's commentary draws together in a slim, well-organised and readable volume a considerable amount of material produced by such bodies as the Law Society, the Joint Practice Management Working Party of the Local Government Group, Association of District Secretaries, the Audit Commission and individual contributors.
Topics covered range from professional responsibilities of local authority solicitors, recruitment and training and how to prepare a successful in-house bid. There is also material on quality standards, time-recording, case management and marketing. The book will therefore be useful to new entrants to the local government service and to more senior lawyers and managers alike.
One of the most thought-provoking sections of the handbook explores organisational approaches to the provision of legal services adopted in response to CCT, to the requirements of client departments and to the political and managerial aspirations of individual authorities. Case studies relating to client/contractor splits and to out-sourcing make interesting reading even to those committed to an in-house department.
The author believes that despite the great variety in local government there is a community of interests and therefore a unity of lawyers comprising the local government legal service, even if this does not mean agreement on all matters.
This handbook will make current experiences and guidance on best practice more readily accessible throughout that service.