OGC and Law Society give best practice guidelines

Lawyers will be warned about the public interest implications of their work for the Government under new guidelines being drawn up by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and the Law Society.

The OGC has teamed up with the Law Society to establish best practice guidelines for lawyers, whether they are advising Whitehall departments or local authorities. They will highlight the differences between acting for public and private sector clients. The guidance will also be aimed at public sector buyers of legal services.

A draft proposal has been put out for consultation to individuals chosen by the Law Society.

The initiative coincides with the creation of seven specialist panels of law firms by the OGC aimed at centralising the Government’s use of legal advisers.

One partner whose firm was successful in the tender said that he would welcome the guidelines. “Lawyers acting for the public sector need to be sensitive to what is a very different environment. You are spending taxpayers’ money and you are in the public eye far more than normal. What you’re working on could end up in the newspapers tomorrow.”