Three city councils in the Midlands are undertaking a joint panel review for barristers’ chambers.
The councils of Derby, Leicester and Stoke-on-Trent began the process in April and have so far received more than 30 expressions of interest.
The tendering process will be completed by the end of June, after which the selected chambers will have first bite at a combined legal spend of £250,000 a year.
Peter Wilson, director of legal services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “[The three city legal teams] have done benchmarking in the past and have been working together for a long time, but this is our first-ever joint procurement.
“It’s about cost primarily, but also about standard of work. We want guaranteed service and we want to use our combined purchase power.”
Chambers are being assessed on their fee rates for each level of barrister, including discounts that they may be willing to offer as well as potential benefits offered, such as training, shadowing or professional development.
The chambers have also been asked to identify the qualifications, training and experience of individual barristers.
Peter Nicolls, head of legal services at Leicester City Council, said: “Like every authority, until now we’ve used barristers on a word-of-mouth basis, but we wanted to look at it afresh in terms of experience, expertise and price.
“It’s about good management and about spending money more efficiently.”