EM LawShare, the UK’s largest legal consortium of public bodies, has grown to reach a total of 100 member organisations. The milestone was reached this week when Coventry City Council announced that it is joining.
EM LawShare is a consortium of local councils, housing organisations, NHS Trusts the police and fire services – and other public sector entities – that together has access to expert legal support from six leading law firms.
Its 100 members now include 52 district councils, 20 unitary & metropolitan councils, seven county councils, four fire & rescue authorities, three NHS trusts, three housing organisations and one police authority.
Its success is due not only to the large savings to the public purse generated through bulk buying power, but also a pioneering approach in appointing only a small number of partner law firms. This means they can in return offer consortium members significant benefits, such as a free training programme of more than 40 courses a year.
EM LawShare head Jayne Francis-Ward, who is also Director of Corporate Resources at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We warmly welcome Coventry City Council to our partnership. At a time when the entire public sector faces considerable financial pressures, it makes sense to further combine the strength of the local government and public sector community – with specialist private sector legal support.
“This is about giving council tax payers better value for money, while empowering members and giving them the freedom to make intelligent purchasing choices with enhanced levels of cost certainty.
“Our members can appoint their chosen law firm directly and build trusting relationships with individual lawyers. They also benefit from shared knowledge and a greater ability to network with one another.”
Helen Lynch, Legal Services Manager (Place and Regulatory) and Acting Monitoring Officer, Coventry City Council, said that signing up to EM LawShare was an obvious choice for the city at a time when local government finances are shrinking.
She explained: “Coventry has undergone rapid changes in recent years. We have recently opened a new customer services centre and are gearing up to move to new offices at Friargate next to the city’s railway station.
“The Council is driving a huge amount of change in the city, which needs support from its lawyers. We have recently restructured Legal Services to enhance what we offer, so we are joining EM LawShare at the right time.
“We are continually looking at achieving the best value for money in the services we provide and being part of a wider legal consortium makes economic sense.
“Our lawyers and clients will benefit from free training and other support, as well as the ability to quickly and efficiently procure quality external legal advice when we need it.”
Jayne Francis-Ward added: “The public sector is changing rapidly, and authorities need support and training with a wide range of issues – including devolution, integration, new housing models, operating models and commercial partnerships.
“EM LawShare continues to grow and attract diverse authorities as new members because it offers significant savings to the public purse – and access to some of the UK’s best legal capability.”