Council legal teams are being urged to ‘lead from the front’ to ensure they do not lose out on work related to the government’s local devolution programme. ELS told the weekend school that combined authorities would ‘almost certainly’ be part of the programme which takes about 12-18 months to set up.
Angela Hutchings, interim director said: ‘The bigger and more complex the combined authority, the more complex the landscape. The process for agreeing what that combined authority looks like will be difficult in politically volatile areas.’
ELS assistant director Shirley Jarlett added: ‘There is going to be a lot of governance, all of the issues around consultation, statutory duties remaining around various roles, what happens if there is a conflict of interest…if it goes wrong, accountability. That’s our bread and butter. It’s the space we need to be playing in and thinking about.
A lot of advice will be needed. We need to make sure we’re the people giving it, not an outsourced model.’
ELS urged lawyers to ‘lead from the front’ and develop a ‘panoramic’ view of their business.
Angela added: ‘We have spent a lot of time focusing on our own bottom line. As [a] legal business going forward, we have got to be thinking about business and where’s that bread and butter coming from?'
Devolution is evolution and not revolution.