According to an exclusive from The Times, Kent County Council is going to sign a deal which will turn its in-house legal team into Invicta Law – the first legal department to become an independent private practice firm that is wholly owned by a local authority.
The Council has been able to take this step thanks to the Legal Services Act 2007, which was intended to regulate the legal services market and encourage competition, and reformed the legal profession by allowing for the creation of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs).
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Local government is hardly associated with cutting-edge innovation — and that is doubly true for in-house council legal departments, where years of austerity-driven budget cuts have encouraged a head-down mentality. However, in the bucolic “garden of England” a revolution is afoot. Early next week Kent County Council will sign a deal to turn its in-house legal team into Invicta Law. The move is far more than a branding exercise; it is a fundamental shake-up of the means of delivering legal advice to local authorities and their residents. Who would have thought that local authority lawyers could have such a taste for innovation and entrepreneurship? Yet Invicta goes to the next level. As a private practice law firm — albeit owned by the council — it can set pay rates and internal structures for its 160 staff, of whom 125 are lawyers.