The latest lawyer to step up to the plate and answer LGL’s 10 Questions is Rob Hann, director of legal services at Local Partnerships and author of wartime novels and children's verse.
1. When and why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I went to an interesting comprehensive school in White Hart Lane Tottenham where a lot of my contemporaries got into law – but not in a good way! I left school and after a few jobs in banking etc ended up working at the Metropolitan Police solicitors department, part of the then Civil Service and forerunner to the CPS. Eventually I decided a career in law was for me so I returned to education and became a solicitor, qualifying (after articles etc) in 1986.
2. Have you always worked in local government?
I was articled at Sheffield City Council – known then as the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire – when David Blunkett was Leader in the mid-1980's and Mrs Thatcher was in power. It was a very exciting and challenging environment for a young lawyer and I got a real grounding in judicial review litigation! I have spent the majority of my career to date in local government working for a number of authorities as a senior lawyer, but I also had two forays into the private sector with Eversheds before ending up at 4ps (now Local Partnerships).
3. What has been your proudest moment so far in your local government career?
Recently, it was appearing before a committee of the European Parliament as an expert on behalf of 'CEMR' (effectively the Local Government Association equivalent in Europe) to give evidence to MEPs about developments in UK procurement. In the early days, it was publishing my first local authority book in 1996 – Local Authority Charging Powers – a compendium giving local authorities a steer of where to find powers to charge for discretionary services and potentially generate income.
4. What one piece of legislation affecting local government would you change and why?
The Treaty of Rome, procurement directives and all associated regulations. How can buying 'stuff' be so fraught with difficulty, expense, delay, uncertainty, and fear of litigation? There must be a better way.
5. What major changes do you see affecting local government legal practice in years to come?
There will be huge pressure on in-house lawyers to join up regionally to deliver legal services over a wider geographical spread to similar 'clients' but mindful of the need to remember who the client is to prevent conflicts of interest etc.
6. What advice would you give to lawyers who are just about to start a career in local government?
Go for it if you can find a training contract. When I started out, local government was a brilliant starting point to gain experiences across a range of subjects, including litigation, child care, prosecutions but also law making (bye-laws), land transfers, joint ventures, partnerships, companies….the list is endless. Sadly there appears to be less opportunity for training contracts in local government these days – a real pity.
7. If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you have done?
I would have scribbled more and hopefully have published a few more books in a wider range of subjects than the current range (law, war, and the Grumblegroar as my 10-year-old concisely put it).
8. If you had to recommend one place/attraction to visit in the authority you’ve most recently worked at, where would it be and why?
The Nottingham Express transit system – the most efficient, modern effective transport system in the UK (says I), procured by two far-sighted councils (Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council) against all the odds and with a little help from yours truly over many years in many different guises!
9. Yes, Minister or The West Wing?
No contest: Yes, Minister. Believe me Sir Humphrey still stalks the corridors of power!
10. What was the last good book you read?
The new compendium of Spike Milligan non-sense poems 'knees, knees youve got to have knees, they come in two's and never three's....etc'. Can’t beat that.
Rob Hann is a solicitor and Director, Legal Services for Local partnerships LLP, a public sector consultancy owned jointly by the Local Government Association and Partnerships UK (whose interests in LP are soon be transferred to HM Treasury). Rob is also the author of several local government legal textbooks on local government law including Local Authority Companies and Partnerships and The PFI and Major Strategic Procurement in Local Government (both of which are updated twice a year). He is also the author of a prize-winning novel, SAS Operation Galia (published by Impress books), and a writer of children's verse, The Grumblegroar.