EMLS Development Network


EMLS can assist public sector legal departments with the difficult process of recruiting and retaining the high calibre lawyers they need, from trainees to highly experienced professionals

Helping You Gain, Train and Retain Your Team’s Skills and Experience

The EM Development Network is a way of looking at the issues around recruitment, training, development and retention of staff as opportunities rather than problems.

The EM Development Network consists of public sector bodies and private sector law firms specialising in advising the public sector and has a track record of success.

The approach is adaptable to your specific circumstances – but at its core, it is about thinking creatively to meet the challenges you face.

The EM Development Network in partnership with the EM LawShare partner firms are also delighted to offer an informal mentoring scheme to all members of EM LawShare. Learn more about about the EM LawShare mentoring scheme here.

EMLS Contacts / Enquiries

To find out more please contact:

Elizabeth Warhurst

North West Leicestershire District Council

Deborah Eaton

EMLS Coordinator

Sarah Hall

West Northants

Partner Firm Contacts

Anthony Collins Solicitors

Matthew Gregson
E: Matthew.Gregson@anthonycollins.com
T: 0121 212 7430
M: 07811 326 071

Bevan Brittan LLP

Kirtpal Kaur-Aujla
E: kirtpal.kaur-aujla@bevanbrittan.com
T: 0370 194 5028
M: 07467 940 477

Browne Jacobson

Richard Barlow
E: richard.barlow@brownejacobson.com
T: 0115 976 6208


Mary Mundy
E: mary.mundy@capsticks.com
T: 0113 322 5566
M: 074 2300 0016


Jonathan Branton
E: Jonathan.Branton@dwf.law
M: 07736 563202


Philippa Dempster
E: philippa.dempster@freeths.co.uk
T: 0345 274 6901 / 0845 050 3203
M: 07768 894 614


David Williams
E: david.williams@geldards.com
T: 0115 983 3757
M: 07976 272171

Sharp Pritchard

Rachel Murray-Smith
E: RMurray-Smith@sharpepritchard.co.uk
T: 02074 05 4600
M: 07467 957 957

Trowers & Hamlins

Amardeep Gill
E: agill@trowers.com
T: 0121 214 8838


John Riddell
E: john.riddell@weightmans.com
T: 0116 242 8925
M: 07790 746 927

Employer Benefits

We are aware that most public sector legal departments find it difficult to recruit and retain the high calibre lawyers that they need. This includes from early recruitment of trainees through to the retention of more senior lawyers.

The EM Development Network has been created to support employers to meet these challenges, including by:

  1. becoming a more attractive employer, to support successful recruitments
  2. Investing in the development of staff and aiding retention
  3. meeting the development needs of current employees, enhancing the skills of those retained

Attracting the Right People

To meet the challenges of 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 their career, but providing that support in-house may not be possible.

How Can the Network Assist You?

Sharing expertise and experience, organisations have engaged in joint recruitments, mentoring schemes, secondments, lawyer-swaps and supported learning.

Any employers interested in an opportunity should feel free to liaise with the panel firms’ leads. Similarly, it is hoped EMLS members will contribute to opportunities and seek to support each other.

Check out the EM Development Network Twitter to see some examples of how this way of working is helping employers and lawyers right now.


Benefits For An Individual

The EM Development Network offers a wide range of opportunities to individuals, each centred on the continuance of professional development.

These opportunities are delivered in partnership with employers, engaging with other public bodies and/or EM Lawshare panel firms.

Are You Looking to Develop and Enhance Your Skill Set?

The EM Development Network consists of public bodies and private sector law firms who work together, for the benefit of their teams.

The EM Development Network can assist in organising a range of opportunities, for you and your employer, to help build upon your current knowledge and skill set:

    1. Mentoring and Buddying – This has the opportunity to help an individual build their confidence; whether that be in their current role or to enable them to take the enxt step in their career. This can be on a short or longer term basis as may be required. Sometimes this engages senior lawyers in the panel firms or it may be on occasions more appropriate to have somebody of a similar level to create a supportive relationship to discuss legal, commercial and perhaps career issues with similar individuals from either members or panel firms.
    2. Opportunities for secondments – The panel firms offer a range of opportunities and experiences around secondment. We are conscious that employers can rarely afford to lose their staff for significant periods of time so there is considerable flexibility available to meet the particular needs of individuals. This could extend to:
      • a short or medium term secondment swap
      • a short term immersion in a particular skill set
      • an opportunity to spend some time in a panel firm’s office albeit doing some of your employer’s own work whilst there
      • a secondment arrangement based upon a particular project allowing time to be embedded in appropriate offices
      • an in-house lawyer forming part of the panel firm’s advisory team
    3. Supported Learning – To reflect individual skill set needs which could be by connecting to other lawyer(s) with similar skill sets for periodic support.
    4. Supported interviews and selection – An offer to bring support or capacity to the recruitment and selection process.

Take a moment to discuss your career plan with your manager. If you have a suggestion of how you could expand your skills, let us know – we’re open to new ideas!

Check out the EM Development Network Twiter to see some examples of how this way of working is helping employers and lawyers right now.

Recruiting an in-house lawyer

Sam McGinty, Head of Legal Services at Loughborough University outlines his experience of recruiting an in-house property lawyer via the EM Lawshare Development Network.

Developing skills through lockdown


During Lockdown, Bevan Brittan offered a “virtual” work experience package to trainee solicitor Sara Fayaz at Gedling Borough Council. The package included access to training with lawyers of all levels, one to one mentoring sessions on particular legal areas, the opportunity to undertake research tasks, being involved in casework discussions, as well as getting the chance to access virtual “social” events with other trainee solicitors.

Bevan Brittan tailored the training to Sara’s individual needs, together with the needs of the Council, providing flexible timings to ensure that no undue pressure was put on the partner firm to host or the Council to release resource.

“I found the meetings via zoom to be really useful, it was clear that all of those I spoke to had a wealth of knowledge and experience. They were friendly and approachable and were more than happy to take the time to impart practical tips and advice that I was able to put into practice straight away. I was also able to direct the conversations towards any areas where I had particular questions which I found invaluable.

I take comfort in now having points of contact should I need any guidance or pointers in future. Sometimes you just have that quick question and it’s nice to know I can just ping across an email or pick up the phone.

My “virtual” work experience is ongoing and I couldn’t recommend it enough to others looking to develop their knowledge, build contacts and gain some extra insights and support in areas of law that interest them.”

Sara Fayaz, Trainee Solicitor, Gedling Borough Council

Development Transformation Plans

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.

Coventry City Council and North West Leicestershire District Council


CCC’s new Planning and Highways Lawyer Clara Thomson was buddied with NWLDC’s Principal Solicitor, Anthea Lowe.

Clara joined with limited practical experience of managing Committee, having previously worked in private practice. She shadowed Anthea over the life cycle of a meeting of Planning Committee at NWLDC (including checking reports, attending briefing and the meeting of Committee) to broaden her understanding and learn from Anthea’s experience.

This opportunity meant that Clara confidently stepped into advising Members and Officers at Planning Committee at CCC. The two Solicitors went on to develop a relationship whereby Clara felt able to pick up the phone and bounce ideas and tricky queries of Anthea.

“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.”

Elizabeth Warhurst, Head of Legal and Support Services, North West Leicestershire District Council

Recruitment Transformation Plans

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

North West Leicestershire District Council and Browne Jacobson

Browne Jacobson and NWLDC developed a joint model of recruitment to help overcome NWLDC’s difficulties in recruiting to their vacant Contracts and Procurement Solicitor post.

Craig Elder, a partner from Browne Jacobson and Elizabeth Warhurst, Head of Legal and Support Services at NWLDC, worked together throughout the recruitment, to attract a junior solicitor (thereby making a salary saving) with the right qualities who could be supported into the role.

The successful candidate, Sam McGinty, was mentored by Craig and developed a close working relationship during the first year of his employment and beyond.

Sam’s competency grew rapidly and was quickly able to provide effective advice and service to NWLDC, despite having no background in local government previously.

“The EM Development Network is a fantastic opportunity to work with colleagues to develop talented lawyers, in a way which everyone benefits from. Why wouldn’t we collaborate in this way?”

Sam McGinty, Head of Legal, Loughborough University

Bevan Brittan Mentoring In House Lawyers

Bevan Brittan offers a mentoring programme that can take place over a number of months or for longer periods (on an ongoing basis).

Upskilling an Internal Promote in a Local Authority

One example was prior to a recruitment process in which the individual who received the mentoring support was successful in being appointed to a higher post as Assistant Director. The mentoring included support on expanding the individual’s knowledge and expertise around corporate governance and decision making with a view to developing a more strategic approach, broadening knowledge and skills for dealing with work across the full range of the Council’s functions. As well as coaching and considering appropriate issues for the interview and appointments process we continue to offer ongoing advice and support and act as a ‘sounding board’.

“Coaching and mentoring helps the individual to build confidence in the advice they provide to the Council and its members – sometimes the most senior lawyer can find themselves in a lonely place and speaking to someone who has been there can be invaluable.”

Judith Barnes, Partner, Bevan Brittan