Portsmouth's lawyer heads north

Nicole Maley reports

PORTSMOUTH City Council's principal solicitor Michael Lancaster has left the public sector to join Leeds firm Eversheds Hepworth & Chadwick.

Lancaster, who started with Portsmouth in 1989 after completing his articles at Leeds practice Hammond Suddards, joined the firm's public sector unit last month.

He will provide specialist advice on the law relating to compulsory competitive tendering and EC procurement, as well as handling work involving further and higher education, police authorities, Tupe and public law remedies.

Lancaster's appointment takes the unit's numbers to five, including unit head, ECH managing partner David Ansbro. Former local authority lawyer Stephen Cirell joined last year as a partner, while colleague John Bennett was taken on as a consultant.

The firm was the first in the private sector to give authorities an undertaking that it would not put in bids for work against them.

Lancaster says the bridge-building currently taking place between local authorities and private practice was one of the main factors behind the switch.

"One of the reasons I found the move so interesting is that I think the future of local government legal services will be a sort of partnership between the public and private sector," he says.

"I also decided to move north for personal reasons – it was time for a change – and this also provided the opportunity to work with Stephen Cirell and John Bennett."

Newly qualified solicitor Fiona Sutcliffe has also joined the unit on a full-time basis since completing her articles with ECH earlier this year.

She will specialise in all aspects of CCT law and procurement, as well as advising on Tupe, education and public law remedies.