Merton and Richmond boroughs appoint new joint head of legal

The London Boroughs of Merton and Richmond have appointed Paul Evans as their new joint head of legal services, taking over from previous legal chief Helen White.

He will take up his post at the end of September, when White is due to return to her home country of New Zealand.

Evans will inherit a newly-merged legal department covering the two local authorities, the combination of which was overseen by White during the past year.

The legal department is also in the midst of redundancy talks with legal staff from both councils, as revealed by The Lawyer earlier this week (5 September 2011), with all job cuts expected to be finalised by 3 October when the merger goes live.

Evans joins Merton and Richmond from Liverpool City Council where he was city solicitor and monitoring officer.

He was recruited to Liverpool to lead a two-year programme to improve ethical standards, governance arrangements and political exchanges, and delivered Liverpool’s first-ever three star assessment from the audit commission for its governance arrangements.

Earlier in his career, Evans also worked as strategic director of corporate services at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council.

Speaking about his new appointment, Evans said: “This is an exciting and challenging time to be in local government and I look forward to being part of a successful legal team and to oversee both councils’ corporate governance.

“There are clearly questions around how legal services will be structured in the future, and Merton and Richmond are already ahead of the game when it comes to effectively sharing legal services.”

Departing legal head White added: “It is very exciting to see (the shared legal services) taking shape and the new joint team becoming a reality. I am happy to be handing over to someone as experienced as Paul, and am confident that he is the ideal person to lead the newly merged Merton and Richmond legal services team.”