Geldards/Kent venture bags Derbyshire council

The joint venture set up by Geldards and the legal department of Kent County Council (KCC) to provide public sector legal services has signed up its first client.

South Derbyshire District Council is the first local authority to sign up to Law:Public, which provides legal support to local authorities. The council was already a client of Geldards, but opted to use the Law:Public model to help minimise legal spend.

The model is the brainchild of KCC director of law and governance Geoff Wild and is aimed at providing supplementary legal ­services to local authorities.

“Local authorities have had their budgets slashed,” Wild said. “Many have just three or four lawyers in their legal departments, and if just one’s cut that can make a big difference. There’s more than ever for them to do.”

Geldards chairman David Williams said that between them the firm and KCC had 130 public sector lawyers available to help with ­project work that sits ­outside the budget of the legal department and other unusual legal problems.

Law:Public is targeting local authorities with legal spends in the hundreds of thousands and is aiming to charge a maximum hourly rate of £150, which will be achieved through an ­average of KCC’s rates and Geldards’.