The County councils of Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire are in preliminary talks to merge their legal departments.
The two legal functions, with a combined external spend of £3m, have held talks as part of a wider move to fuse HR, finance, procurement, audit and operational
ne, head of corporate governance and monitoring officer at Northants, told The Lawyer: “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t move towards a single legal team. We’re hopeful we can make economies [by sharing] library services, capacity building and external lawyers, and maybe in terms of management.
“Financial considerations are a big driver. [There’s] also an acknowledgement that we can’t sit in our own kingdoms and operate as we’ve always done.”
Osborne emphasised that there would be no redundancies as a result of a merger. “I don’t see job losses. We have lean teams – already my team’s working at 130 per cent capacity.”
With around 50 staff each the teams would be compatible in terms of size. But head of legal at Cambridgeshire Quentin Baker pointed out that geographical distance could pose challenges.
As public sector spending cuts are anticipated, local government legal departments are looking for further ways of saving money. Cambridgeshire last week signed a deal to procure external legal services alongside other local authorities.
Meanwhile, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which already share a legal head, could merge (The Lawyer, 22 March).