Plymouth City Council's head of legal has joined Bevan Ashford as the firm ramps up its commitment to public sector work
Malcolm Gilbert will head Bevan Ashford's West Country public sector department. The group was previously headed by partner Andrew Rothwell, who will now focus on his role as head of property. Gilbert has more than 22 years of experience working in the public sector, particularly in local government, and has in-depth experience in all aspects of administrative law. He was head of legal services at Plymouth City Council, the largest unitary council west of Bristol, from 1997. Gilbert also serves as a deputy district chairman of tribunals, and has lectured extensively on human rights, administrative law and corporate governance issues. West Country chief executive Christopher Hawkins said that Gilbert's appointment ended a long search to find someone with enough experience to head the group. "We're stepping up our commitment to public sector work but we've had difficulty in finding the right person to lead the team. If we'd been able to recruit someone two or three years ago, we would have done that," he said. Further hires to the group are planned. Hawkins said: "What we want to do is allow Malcolm to get his feet under the table and for him to decide where the team needs to be strengthened, but obviously we do want to expand the team." Gilbert said: "I'm greatly impressed by the resources and professional expertise made available to me, and I've been made very welcome, all of which leads me to think I have made the right choice." Rothwell said: "Malcolm's experience is a perfect match for our profile. We recognise the many challenges now facing the public sector and want to be ready to offer our support in all areas to help our clients achieve their priorities."