by Kate Hiller, Team Manager and Deputy Monitoring Officer
It has been 7 months since I joined NWL Legal as the Legal Team Manager and I can honestly say that the time has flown by! So much has happened in that time and I am proud of what we as a team have achieved over the past few months, especially in this new virtual world.
I never would have imagined that I would be starting somewhere new and spending the first 7 months only having met a couple of the team in person. It is truly testament to what a fantastic team we have that notwithstanding this, I felt welcome from day 1. It feels like we are a tight knit team, even though we are all remote working, proving that distance does not have to be a barrier to effective team working.
During my time here, I have seen talent move on in our planning lawyer moving onto pastures new and our previous trainee solicitor qualifying (and securing herself a post-qualification local government role) but have welcomed new talent in our new trainee solicitor, Lauren. This reflects the growing our own nature of our team and we are grateful to have the resources and opportunity to develop up and coming lawyers in this way.
As a Council, we have seen Members return to face-to-face committee meetings, we have reviewed our constitution and are going through governance processes to approve the changes, and we have grappled with the new LGA Model Code of Conduct for Members, working with our neighbouring Leicestershire authorities and the LGA to make consistent changes. We have also proudly incorporated EM Dev Co Limited as a development collaboration between local authorities, with lawyers working as part of a project team within NWLDC and being a legal lead for the 3 district and boroughs involved.
Within the Legal team, we have been reviewing our processes – not least because of our new ways of working. The team have embraced working flexibly whilst ensuring we still deliver excellent client service and meet client needs. We have moved to monthly billing to give both our external clients and us more certainty on fees. We have also been reviewing how our internal clients instruct us and how we instruct external solicitors when we need to, in order to make sure everybody gets the right advice when they need it.
The team has ploughed through numerous land transactions, contracts, planning agreements and enforcement matters, all with good humour and dedication to achieving the client’s objectives. It was fantastic to see the achievements of Kerryn and Rebecca being recognised when they were shortlisted for the LLG awards last month and I was delighted that Kerryn won the Best Newcomer Award having done an excellent job settling into a new role during the pandemic (having started only a few months before me).
Having changed councils for the first time in my 9-year legal career, I have learnt that every council is different but also in many ways, they are completely the same! It has been a fantastic 7 months and I cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store…