Bevan Brittan and Trowers & Hamlins have advised the London Boroughs of Barnet and Harrow on the merger of their legal teams.
The shared legal service will see Barnet’s legal team move to Harrow from today (3 September), pushing combined lawyer headcount to around 70.
Barnet Council turned to longstanding advisers Trowers & Hamlins, which has advised the authority on a number of regeneration projects in the past for issues including cost sharing, TUPE, pensions issues, service standards, risk management and procurement law. The team was led by public sector commercial head Helen Randall, who worked alongside employment partner Richie Alder and pensions partner Martin McFall.
Harrow council was advised by Bevan Brittan, led by senior commercial partner Bethan Evans alongside employment partner Sarah Lamont and commercial partner Olwen Dutton.
Harrow head of legal services Jessica Farmer will manage the day-to-day running of the shared legal team, while Harrow’s director of legal and governance services Hugh Peart will continue in his current role, overseeing the combined legal function.
A spokesperson for the merged service said that solicitors who are currently instructing Barnet or Harrow council on ongoing major projects will not be affected by the tie-up. The service will use firms on the London Boroughs Legal Alliance (LBLA), whose members jointly procure legal advice.
Background to this deal:
The deal was first mooted earlier this year (5 April 2012) with a July tie-up date but the authorities re-issued a statement three months later, saying the merger would not be completed until September (21 August). Farmer said the three-month delay was down to “wanting to get things completely right” and not due to any conflict.
There have been concerns, however, that the deal would constitute a takeover by Harrow Council of Barnet’s legal services .Harrow Council denied these claims.
Trowers & Hamlins has advised Barnet council on major regeneration projects in the past, including their successful primary school building programme and the major One Barnet outsourcing programme, both of which the firm was appointed to following competitive tenders.
Harrow Council turned to Bethan Evans of Bevan Brittan in October 2011 when it needed advice on the specifics of how a legal practice can be shared between the authorities.