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Local Government

Working for a local authority is eye-opening. It is very difficult for someone who has never been on the inside to appreciate what the pressures are, what the difficulties are, how people cope differently, and how they vary enormously from one section of a local authority to another.

The whole framework of democratic or bureaucratic decision-making (or both) reflects a corporation created by statute and ruled by statute, regulations and guidance, but within that having tensions between elected members and officers which can range from high levels of co-operation (or subservience) to what is virtually open warfare.

Consequently it is a great advantage for a lawyer in private practice to have had the experience of being part of the legal teams in local authorities, to understand and empathise with how local government and local government officers work, to appreciate what is a good decision and what is a poor one; to judge when to work with the grain and enable a decision in the client’s interest, and when it is necessary to confront and ultimately to invoke legal action or official complaints to address unjustified conduct on the part of a local authority or officer.

Local government law is a specialised field, and one with which most lawyers in private practice have virtually no dealings out with family law. For us, evaluating local government actions and inactions is routine.

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