Cambs, Northants mull combined legal function

The County councils of Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire are in preliminary talks to merge their legal departments.

Penny Osborne
Penny Osborne

The two legal functions, with a combined external spend of £3m, have held talks as part of a wider move to fuse HR, finance, ­procurement, audit and operational

ne, head of corporate governance and monitoring officer at Northants, told The Lawyer: “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t move towards a single legal team. We’re hopeful we can make economies [by sharing] library services, capacity building and external lawyers, and maybe in terms of management.

“Financial considerations are a big ­driver. [There’s] also an ­acknowledgement that we can’t sit in our own ­kingdoms and operate as we’ve always done.”

Osborne emphasised that there would be no ­redundancies as a result of a ­merger. “I don’t see job ­losses. We have lean teams – already my team’s working at 130 per cent capacity.”

With around 50 staff each the teams would be ­compatible in terms of size. But head of legal at ­Cambridgeshire Quentin Baker pointed out that ­geographical distance could pose challenges.

As public sector spending cuts are anticipated, local government legal departments are looking for further ways of saving money. Cambridgeshire last week signed a deal to procure external legal ­services alongside other local authorities.

Meanwhile, the ­London Borough of ­Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which already share a legal head, could merge (The Lawyer, 22 March).