Local govt lawyers bid for increased prominence

Local govt lawyers bid for increased prominenceSolicitors in Local Government (SLG) will be “the first port of call” on local government legal issues, the organisation’s new chair has vowed.

Senior solicitor at the London Borough of Hillingdon Suzanne Bond, who became chair of the 4,000- solicitor group last week, said: “If there’s a matter where local government legal issues are concerned, SLG should be the first port of call, as we’re the experts.”

Bond also pledged to lobby for a mandatory qualification for local authority monitoring officers “to maintain standards and confidence” in the post after new legislation altered the role. She vowed to fight to maintain SLG’s influence in the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Bond said: “With the advent of the Legal Services Act [LSA], the Law Society, from whom we get our funding, will become a leaner body, potentially with less funding to give away. The Law Society Council, upon which we have two seats, will be shrinking, with an emphasis on geographical constituencies rather than special interest groups such as SLG. The challenge will be to reposition ourselves within the new Law Society and SRA while retaining influence and funding.”

Bond took over as chair from George Curran, the former head of legal at Walsall Metropolitan Council. Before that she was London and Home Counties branch secretary from 2000.

Bond added that as the LSA gives the SRA the ability to offer differential rates on practising certificates. SLG will explore this, as many of its members face having no certificate due to cutbacks in local authorities’ legal budgets.