Kirklees Council spearheads drive for legal benchmarking

The first-ever benchmarking group for city council legal departments is being set up.

The group will be established in the next 12 months by Tony Walsh, legal services manager at Kirklees Metropolitan Council.

Walsh emailed the legal heads of all of England’s and Wales’s 31 city councils late last month and expects to establish the club within 12 months.

Walsh said: “There’s a big drive from [Kirklees’] members to get something up and running. The purpose is simple: to prove that we get value for money.”

Walsh will be examining an existing benchmarking scheme for county councils set up by Eversheds. However, the county council scheme is less comprehensive than that proposed by Kirklees and has only 20 county council members.

Walsh, who is also an accountant, added: “A lot of councils are doing cost analyses, but not to the level we want. For instance, we’d want to analyse the cost of legal services down to a single Section 106 agreement or a sale-and-leaseback – a lot of councils have cost analyses, but not in the same workstreams.”

Kirklees is already a member of a benchmarking group for South and West Yorkshire, which has eight metropolitan borough councils.