Local Government Lawyer Insight December 2018 LocalGovernmentLawyer 4 Is there a crisis brewing in the legal departments of local government? Or, more specifically, will there be enough lawyers in future to carry out the work demanded of them? And are we running out of leaders to direct these legal teams? Calculations from Local Government Lawyer suggest that current ranks of lawyers would need to work to 77 (see box, p5) in order to maintain present numbers. But even this unlikely prospect would not resolve the difficulties. Suki Binjal, President of Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) is particularly worried about the higher tiers. "There is a real shortage of 5 years plus qualifieds," she says. "These would be the heads of law and monitoring officers of the future. That really is a huge issue nationally." Hannah Cottam, a Director of Sellick, the largest local government locum recruiter, echoes Binjal's views: "There is a real gap at the top of the tree - of the young, dynamic, energetic leaders of the future. There is going to be a crisis at the top in the next five to 10 years." And Noel Inge, managing director of CILEx Law School (part of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) paints the picture somewhat more broadly: "There is insufficient staffing to do the work in local authorities. At every authority I visit they say they are absolutely stretched for resources." So acute are shortages now, in fact, that Sellick estimates it is seeing a 20% increase in demand for locum placements. Running out of time? Austerity has left authorities with a severe shortage of senior lawyers while a dearth of trainees and NQs is failing to swell the junior ranks. Neasa MacErlean assesses what can be done to close the gap. “There is a real gap at the top of the tree - of the young, dynamic, energetic leaders of the future. There is going to be a crisis at the top in the next five to 10 years."