Insight Local Government Lawyer Insight December 2018 3 Welcome to Insight. In this issue journalist Neasa MacErlean reports on the challenges to local authorities posed by the shortage of mid-level lawyers and finds out the short and long-term strategies they can adopt in response. We hear from Suki Binjal, President of Lawyers in Local Government (LLG), on her varied career at public sector organisations across the country and how during her time in office LLG has evolved to help its members thrive, not just survive, in the current climate. V. Charles Ward meanwhile provides some top tips on how local government lawyers can make the most of management roles. Many local authority legal departments have considered whether they should set up an alternative business structure as they seek to widen their commercial opportunities beyond their immediate area, but relatively few have so far taken the plunge. Hilary Irving of First North Law, the first ABS in the North of England, explains why she and colleagues at North Yorkshire County Council went down this route and what it takes to get up and running. The first area under the spotlight in this issue is child protection. Julien Foster of leading set 1GC provides a must-read article on the pitfalls in public law proceedings and how local authorities can avoid them. Graham Cole, LLG’s National Lead Officer for Children’s Services and Education, meanwhile calls on legal teams to do more to promote legal staff wellbeing, as more and more child care lawyers suffer from stress, anxiety and burnout. We also look at current issues around Place, with articles including an analysis by Cornerstone Barristers’ Matt Hutchings QC on the role of local authorities in housing supply, and Chris Plumley of Trowers & Hamlins on what can be done to unlock stalled development sites. As always, we are keen to receive feedback so do get in touch. Contents Running out of time? p4 Austerity has left authorities with a shortage of senior lawyers while a dearth of trainees and NQs is failing to swell the junior ranks finds Neasa MacErlean. The road from here, p8 A commitment to public service and a willingness to move for the right opportunity have seen Suki Binjal, President of LLG, work for public bodies across England. Philip Hoult finds out what she considers to be the key challenges for local government lawyers. Striking out in a new direction: Setting up an ABS, p12 What does it take to set up a legal services alternative business structure? Hilary Irving outlines the risks and rewards. Through the looking glass, p14 Rosalee Dorfman Mohajer looks at the implications of the Cliff Richard judgment for local authorities when they share information with the press. A chance to make a difference, p16 Hesitant about taking on management responsibilities? V. Charles Ward gives some pointers for those taking their first steps. Spotlight: Child Protection Order in Court, p19 Julien Foster examines good practice, bad practice and the pitfalls when it comes to local authorities and public law proceedings. s20: Some welcome guidance from the Supreme Court, p22 Kella Bowers analyses the Supreme Court’s guidance on s20 of the Children Act provided by its decision in Williams v London Borough of Hackney. Local authorities and s.38(6) assessments, p24 The Court of Appeal has issued a timely reminder in a case where a judge had ordered a local authority to fund a s38(6) assessment, writes Rebecca Cross. Taking the strain? p25 Local authority child care lawyers are being overwhelmed by the rise in care proceedings and a crisis could be looming, writes Graham Cole. Spotlight: Place The role of local authorities in housing supply, p27 Matt Hutchings QC considers how local authorities can boost housing in their areas through their roles as builders and planning authorities and through the use of local housing companies. Unlocking stalled development sites, p31 Chris Plumley explores some of the most common traps in relation to stalled development sites and suggests some effective solutions. A market snapshot, p33 Nathan Holden and Clive Pearce look at the lessons to be learned from recent topical legal cases and other changes in the real estate market. The importance of Place and revenue growth for local government, p35 Judith Barnes and David Hutton outline how local authorities can - and must - utilise their Place-making roles to ensure their future financial viability. Local Government Lawyer Editor Philip Hoult Publisher Derek Bedlow Advertising Kate Coyne 01625 666 395