A Manchester barristers' chambers is believed to be the first set to enter partnership with a local authority under the Best Value legislation.
Chorley Borough Council in Lancashire has entered into a partnership with 40 King Street in Manchester and its spin-off 5 Park Place in Leeds.
The chambers will advise on planning, housing, human rights and employment work under the arrangement.
The link will give the council access to additional specialist expertise to top up in-house legal services when needed under Best Value, the scheme which has replaced compulsory competitive tendering.
Councillor Danny Gee, Chorley's executive member for Best Value, says that although law firms have entered into these arrangements in the past, this is a first for the bar. Gee describes the agreement as a “pilot scheme” which can be terminated by either side.
He says: “There will be no formal obligation on the local authority to instruct counsel from the chambers. Our intention is that the existing strengths of our own Legal Services Unit will be complemented and developed, not replaced.”