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RUSSELL Jones & Walker has won the tender for all the legal work for a new federation of four leading trades unions.
The work, expected to be worth up to half a million pounds a year, will provide a full service on all personal injury and employment-related work, and head office legal function.
The firm will also be expected to come up with a variety of innovative new services for members of the 175,000-strong federation.
Senior partner John Webber says: "Obviously we are pleased. It will be most important to concentrate on providing a quality service and value for money."
Unions are increasingly streamlining their legal representation to single firms.
Webber says: "At a time when the public is finding access to legal services expensive and difficult, trades unions and staff associations are quite properly negotiating better terms and easier access for their members."
The federation consists of the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists (IPMS), the Society of Telecom Executives (STE), the Communication Managers Association (CMA), and Independent Union of Halifax Staff.
Russell Jones & Walker already acts for the IPMS - the largest in the federation. Firms acting for the others - Lawford & Co and Park Nelson Thompson Quarell (STE) and Rowley Ashworth (CME) will wind down their work as cases are completed.
Russell Jones & Walker will start in the new year, initially on a one-year renewable contract.
Ben Lawrence, STE legal aid policy officer, says criteria in the tender included cost, national coverage, the ability to provide a full service and to create add-on services.
Talks will focus on helplines for union officials and members, and a free advice scheme similar to the Law Society's UnionLaw which would act as a "loss leader" for further business.
Russell Jones & Walker has also been taken on to provide a personal injury legal assistance scheme for the 50,000-member Barclays Group Staff Union. The aim is to boost the number of PI cases from 200 to 450 and increase total awards from u600,000 to u2.7 million a year.