“My department is merging with the team at a neighbouring council. What effect will this have on my career?"
Paul Gilbert says:
“The impact is likely to be significant, but whether it is a positive or negative impact depends all sorts of factors. Combining teams provides an opportunity to make some savings from shared best practice, from more thoughtful deployment of resources and from the way external law firms are used. In this period of change there is some opportunity to be involved in significant integration projects, to learn from working at close quarters with others and to have more influence across a wider range of issues. For the most part, moving through a period of change and being tested intellectually and emotionally is an experience that many of us will have in our careers (sometimes more than once) and from which we can learn a great deal.
“Clearly however another cost saving opportunity is to reduce headcount; if that is part of the process then it is possible that roles will be at risk and some people will lose out. I will try to avoid platitudes and clichés at this point however it is the case that most lawyers working in in-house roles will move on every 3-5 years. Sometimes this will be their choice, but inevitably (for some) it will be as a result of restructuring and role redundancy. The best advice at this point is to ensure that one’s personal conduct is professionally exemplary, that a positive outlook is maintained and lawyers start to approach their personal transition with significant planning around researching the market, networking and if possible some personal development.
“One thing is clear at the moment and it is that the public sector is leading much of the innovation in legal services; that being the case the sector is potentially one of the more diverse, strategic and dynamic sectors to work in. A lawyer that can take some advantage of this period, even when there might be some personal disruption is likely to be a more valuable employee.”
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Kelly Wadkins says:
“Shared Legal Services is still a relatively new concept and it has had varying effects on staffing levels across the country. On the one hand, it has led to redundancies, often at senior management or middle management level; on the other hand, we have seen some shared service departments establish a law firm model / structure, in which their revenue / budget comes directly from billable hours. Such a model has allowed larger departments to bid for neighbouring authorities work, thus increasing workflow and staffing levels.”