EM Development Network

IntroductionContactsCase studies
Tackling local authority legal recruitment and retention challenges through innovative partnerships:

  • Innovative and collaborative approach
  • Faster recruitment, attracting high quality candidates
  • Creative development opportunities
  • Increased retention of quality staff.

What is the EM Development Network?

Most local government legal departments find it difficult to recruit and retain the high calibre lawyers they need, at all levels, from trainees and newly qualified staff to highly experienced professionals.

The EM Development Network is a collaborative approach to meeting these challenges, with a proven track record of success. The Development Network includes local authorities and law firms specialising in local government law. The approach is adaptable to your specific circumstances – at it’s core, this is about thinking creatively to meet the challenges you face.

Attracting the right candidates
To meet the challenges on recruitment it is necessary to think differently. Bearing in mind the role, the likely quality of candidates and the unique features of your existing team, your needs will vary each time.

Retaining talented individuals
We can’t keep hold of staff forever, but we can make their role and experience as interesting and engaging as possible and give them the best opportunity to move into a quality role in the future. Sometimes a lawyer’s role changes or they want to take the next step in the career, but providing that support in house may not be possible. The EM Development Network can help.

Case studies
We’ve provided a number of case studies (see above) giving examples of ways the EM Development Network has been successful. These are there to inspire – your own flexibility and creative thinking are at the core of making these relationships provide the most benefit.

What’s in it for us?

The benefits from this way of working flow both ways. For example:

Benefits to the recruiter/employer:

  • A wider pool of quality candidates attracted
  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Enhanced development opportunities resulting in higher skilled work force at lower cost
  • Reduced turnover of staff.

Benefits to the partner involved:

  • Development opportunities for their team
  • Opportunity to build partnerships for the future
  • Building strong networks and contacts
  • Knowledge transfer and learning from others experience.

If you are interested in exploring working together with one of the EM Development Network partners, please feel free to make contact directly with the participants listed below.

Craig Elder, Browne Jacobson

Elizabeth Warhurst, North West Leicestershire District Council

Richard Barlow, Browne Jacobson

Clara Thomson, Coventry City Council

Emma Horton, Leicester City Council

Gareth Oldale, Sharpe Pritchard

Annie Moy, Sharpe Pritchard

Fran Whyley, Gedling Borough Council

David Hutton, Bevan Brittan

Stuart Evans, Birmingham City Council

Julie Newman, Coventry City Council

Transferring skills through mentorships

A District Council offered support to a City Council by creating a shadowing opportunity for a new recruit to obtain practical experience in an area that would be crucial for her role. The opportunity was offered in the form of one week’s shadowing with ongoing mentoring support so the new recruit would feel comfortable with the new knowledge acquired and confident in their new responsibilities.

1 week and ongoing mentoring

Case study story:
Coventry City Council (CCC) had previously outsourced all planning and highways legal advice, but following a restructure, decided to bring the work back in house, creating a new post of Planning and Highways Lawyer.

The successful candidate was Clara Thomson. Clara trained in a local authority and joined Coventry from a junior role in the private sector. Her application demonstrated the right behaviours and skills to make a success of the role. However, Clara had limited practical experience of managing Planning Committee. An arrangement was made so Clara received mentoring from Anthea Lowe, Principal Solicitor at North West Leicestershire District Council who had extensive experience in supervising planning work. Clara spent 5 days shadowing Anthea, across the life-cycle of a Committee: performing legal and governance checks on reports, attending Committee briefing and then Planning Committee. Clara developed a relationship with Anthea, whereby she felt able to pick up the phone and bounce ideas and tricky queries off her.

Law firm and council involved:
Coventry City Council and North West Leicestershire District Council

Clara has confidently stepped into advising Members and Officers at Planning Committee, successfully helping to manage the legal and governance risks. With this confidence, Clara is able to balance her busy caseload and focus appropriate resources on planning and highways agreements, which have become a key source of income to Legal Services. Coventry City Council is delighted to have such a capable resource back in house.

“The package of support and buddying in place when I joined Coventry made the challenge of moving into such a key role that much more manageable. The opportunity to share experience and practice with colleagues elsewhere was invaluable.”

“NWLDC were pleased to be able to support the development of a talented lawyer. We were proud to see the outcome of our work in Clara’s increased confidence in dealing with planning committee. This is exactly what the EMDN is all about.”

Contact details of key contacts involved:
Elizabeth Warhurst, Head of Legal and Support Services, NWLDC
Clara Thomson, Planning and Highways Lawyer, CCC