Lambeth advertises legal work

Helen Sage reports

Law firms have been invited to tender for work after Lambeth's radical voluntary privatisation initiative was passed by councillors earlier this month. The legal department has sent out a mail shot advertising 85 per cent of its work to all the law firms it has dealt with in the past.

In the most radical outsourcing project to be undertaken by an in-house legal team, 18 council solicitors will have to move into the private sector via a direct transfer of their present contract of terms and conditions. A core team of five solicitors will remain in house.

Lambeth's head of legal services, Gerard Curran, said staff reaction to the proposals was mixed: "Some staff see it as an opportunity to develop their careers in private practice, others are concerned about working in a new environment."

The council decided to voluntarily hand over its legal work just six months after its own legal team won a contract under CCT.

Curran said accusations of fraud and mismanagement levelled at Lambeth had led to a general feeling that the legal work was not being done as efficiently as it should have been.

He added: "If we can develop a mature working relationship with the private sector then we should be able to achieve a high level of work at a very reasonable price."