When regional firm Stoneham Langton & Passmore won the u1 million contract for Croydon Council' s legal work earlier this year it stamped its name on the local authority market.

The firm, which operates from three offices around the country, including a six-partner Croydon practice, was awarded the tender after beating more than 70 top City and regional practices in the bid to take on the bulk of the council's legal services.

Since then, Stoneham's has also been listed as the reserve contractor for the London Borough of Bromley's property and litigation work, and is involved in the tendering process for work with two other authorities.

Russell Bell, managing partner of Stoneham's Croydon office, says the firm has also tendered for work with public bodies planning externalisation in the South-East.

Stoneham's employs 14 fee-earners to deal with its public sector workload, with three partners overseeing the contracts. The work makes up 20 per cent of the practice's annual turnover and additional staff are likely to be recruited if the workload increases.

“We take on local authority contracts because they provide a solid and secure base for growth,” says Bell. “The contract often leads to larger project work for the client.”

Bell says the Croydon contract was vital in establishing the practice's local authority base because the five-year project was the first of its type to be awarded through voluntary competitive tendering.