Spotlight on…

Samuel McGinty, principal solicitor (contracts and commercial) at North West Leicestershire District Council

There are many organisations within EM LawShare and we like to highlight one in each edition of ConsortEM by putting a member in the spotlight. This month, Samuel McGinty discusses the importance of team structure and the development of the Leicestershire combined authority agenda.

How long have you been with North West Leicestershire District Council?

I joined North West Leicestershire District Council in September 2011.

What does your role entail?

I provide advice on a range of transactional matters to the council and our external clients, including contracts, procurement, partnering, construction and grant funding agreements. I also support the council in terms of corporate governance advice and cross-authority projects.

As we operate commercially under the banner of NWL Legal Focus, part of my time is spent on business development, marketing and client care, to help us grow our client base and verify that we are giving our clients the best service possible. I am pleased to say feedback is very positive!

Who you report to and what is the structure of your team?

I work collaboratively with our regulatory and enforcement principal solicitor, practice manager and team manager, under the guidance of our head of service. We are a big team for a district and are structured into three areas, to make sure we can offer a seamless service to our internal and external clients, notwithstanding individual leave and so on. We also have a strong admin team supporting the fee earners, so we can work as efficiently as possible focussing on providing high quality legal advice – rather than administrative tasks. It is good business sense.

What are the most pressing legal issues for you at the moment?

For me, the most pressing – and, somewhat sadly, exciting – issue is the combined authority agenda. Leicestershire is at the very start of the journey, but have a strong history of working together on strategic matters. We are about to conduct our governance review and Elizabeth Warhurst, our head of legal and support services and monitoring officer, is leading on behalf of the seven districts. I have found exploring the legalities of creating a combined authority fascinating and am keen to see it develop.

How does North West Leicestershire District Council compare with other places you have worked?

I started my career in private practice and moved to North West Leicestershire District Council on qualification. I am particularly enthusiastic about the opportunities that local government offers lawyers at all levels, in particular at junior level and I know this is borne of my experience here. I was recruited under the joint banner of North West Leicestershire District Council and Browne Jacobson, meaning that I was mentored by the firm’s government and infrastructure team through my first 6 months. It was so valuable to have the support of my in-house colleagues, but also the ear of a specialist commercial team to aid my transition into local government. I am pleased to say we are still working closely now.

It has been an incredibly positive four years, during which I have gained more experience, in a broader range of areas than I could have dreamt of. Naturally, the work life balance is much improved but it is the autonomy, breadth of work and opportunities to develop that keep me here.

What law would you like to see changed?

I would like all the double negatives removed from The Local Authority Functions and Responsibility Regulations please.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Trust your gut instinct – it is usually right.

Finally, two truths and one lie in any order.

We are fond of a fuddle – a buffet where all the diners bring a dish. No, I did not know it was a thing either – until I started here!

The electric fan to staff ratio in legal services is 1:1.

A man recently brought two replica grenades into the council offices causing a mass evacuation.