Warwickshire County Council has become the latest local authority to launch an alternative business structure (ABS) to expand the work it already does for other public bodies.
Warwickshire Legal Services (WLS) Trading began operating at the start of this month, following approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The 90-strong team already provides legal services to Warwick District Council, West Mercia and Warwickshire Police Alliance, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Herefordshire Council, as well as over 200 schools and academies.
These external clients generated £1.5m in income in the last financial year, a third of WLS’s total income.
Unlike some of the other local authority ABSs, this is not a case of the entire legal department transferring into the new business– WLS Trading does not employ staff directly, with all legal advice provided by the council’s legal team.
The aim is deliver “existing core specialisms, such as corporate, commercial, education, property and employment law, to a range of new public sector customers”.
David Carter, the council’s joint managing director, explained: “The county council’s legal team has an excellent reputation and already has well-established working arrangements in place, delivering legal services to a range of public sector clients.
“With the ABS licence in place for WLS Trading Ltd, we now have greater operational freedom in terms of the external clients we are able to contract with to provide legal services, such as the education, health, housing and blue light sectors.”
Sarah Duxbury, the council’s head of law and governance, added: “Our passion is for supporting public sector bodies to deliver their objectives by providing pragmatic and solution focused legal advice.
“Our track record in the legal field, coupled with our dedicated team of skilled and motivated lawyers, provide the perfect platform for us to launch the new company and start delivering our ambitions to grow our business and expand our public sector customer base.”