After a comprehensive tender process which attracted 97 expressions of interest from law firms throughout the UK, the 18 local authorities have now appointed four firms to work in partnership on their outsourced legal work.
The four law firms - Ashfords, Browne Jacobson, Freeth Cartwright and Weightmans - have been appointed for an initial three year term.
The 18 authorities have launched an 'umbrella' brand - 'E.M. Law Share' - to mark the launch of the initiative. Set up costs including project management, partnership agreements and the development of a new web site for sharing information between authorities have been part funded by a grant from East Midlands Centre of Excellence.
The tender process was led by Jayne Francis, Assistant Head of Legal Services at Nottinghamshire CC, working with Stuart Leslie, Chief Legal Officer, Derby City Council, Sara Goodwin, Head of Law and Scrutiny Services, Bassetlaw DC and John McElvaney, Deputy County Secretary, Derbyshire CC.
Ms Francis said:
'This was a large scale tender process and we are delighted with the cost savings it is going to achieve - in the region of£2.5m over the next four years.
'The financial benefits include reduced hourly rates, training opportunities, and access to research facilities.
'E. M. Law Share will also improve the service delivery of the 18 local authorities as it will facilitate increased productivity through reduced duplication. We see this as the start of a new era of working closely together and are very excited about all the benefits this will bring to our individual authorities.
'When assessing the law firms, relevant public sector experience was regarded as essential. It was also important for the firms to be sufficiently well established to provide the type of service required by the large number of authorities involved.
'We are delighted with our four partners. This initiative is a win-win for all involved - the local authorities, the law firms and the council tax payer.'
The 18 local authorities making up East Midlands Law Share are:
-Derby City Council
-North Kesteven DC
-Blaby District Council
-East Northamptonshire Council
-West Lindsey DC
-Newark & Sherwood DC
-Nottinghamshire Police Authority
-High Peak BC
-Derbyshire Dales DC