Councils drive down legal costs with FirstLaw partnership

Fees paid to barristers instructed by the 10 Greater Manchester councils and two Lancashire unitary councils are due to be reduced by a quarter, creating a saving of around £250,000.
Costs are being driven down through an initiative to standardise fees across the consortium of councils, with a third party brought in to manage the system.
The new system of billing will be managed by FirstLAW, the legal tendering and audit service. FirstLAW will issue to barristers a standard fee claims form, devised by Tameside Council, coupled with explanatory notes covering fee scales, bill narratives and payment arrangements.
Tameside Borough Solicitor Sylvia Roberts, who heads the consortium, said: “If all the chambers that the councils currently instruct convert to the new system, the likely saving will be about £250,000. This is based on a total budget of around £1m of childcare work alone – the equivalent on average to £25,000 per council.”