The rate of growth in the Government legal system has increased by almost 1,000 per cent since New Labour's rise to power
This rise represents nearly 500 extra lawyers in the Government's legal capacity. Some 50 lawyers were hired by the Conservative government between 1992 and 1997, as opposed to 474 between May 1997 and today. These details, revealed exclusively by The Lawyer, were reported in a recent Government Legal Service (GLS) report outlining its functions. Anthony Inglese, recently appointed head solicitor at the Department of Trade and Industry after his previous role as Deputy Treasury Solicitor, said: "The Government wants to work increasingly with lawyers, and is requiring its programme to be delivered through legislation." He also attributed the rise to the installation of the Human Rights Act into English and Welsh law and the growth of personal injury work, particularly relating to prisons. Ministry of Defence lawyers, for example, are handling two group claims comprising 350 claims for post-traumatic stress disorder brought by soldiers who served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and the Gulf, in addition to claims arising out of Gulf War Syndrome. The volume of Government litigation has grown so much during New Labour's terms in office - reflecting the growth of litigation-friendly UK - that the Treasury Solicitor, Juliet Wheldon QC, whose department conducts most litigation, is crying out for more lawyers. Last year, the Home Office referred a record level of around 3,000 immigration cases to the Treasury Solicitor, which has 300 lawyers. Wheldon said: "The most significant and strategic issue now facing the agency [GLS] is how to respond to the continuing and considerable growth in the demand for its services." There are currently 1,574 Government lawyers spread across 40 departments, agencies and public bodies. The Treasury Solicitor has 208 lawyers, the largest number in the GLS, followed by the Land Registry with 175, the Lord Chancellor's Department with 140, Work Pensions and Health with 136 and Customs & Excise with 120. The smallest departments, with one lawyer each, are Companies House, the Employment Tribunals Service, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Parly Commission for Administration.