Six tips for managing multi-generational teams

by Elizabeth Warhurst, Head of Legal and Commercial Services and Monitoring Officer

Elizabeth was asking by the Law Society to write an article about how she tailors her management style to suit everyone within a multi-generational team. Elizabeth explains her approach and shares her tips here.

Join our team!

Senior Planning Solicitor

Band G plus up to 5 market supplements

£34,728 – £43,857 per annum, full time permanent contract

Are you ready to step into a management role, or do you have existing management experience that you would like to continue to develop?

Do you enjoy, and have significant experience in, the areas of planning and regional development?

Would you like to have the opportunity to further develop your skills by receiving mentoring support from a leading national law firm?

If you have answered yes to these questions, our Senior Planning Solicitor vacancy might be the role for you!

What are we looking for?

As our new principal planning lawyer you will lead on all planning legal matters for the Council, as well as external clients (as required).  You will have line management responsibility for one team member, so previous line management experience, or an eagerness to step into a management role, is required.  As a senior member of the legal team, you will assist and support the Legal Services Team Manager and Head of Legal and Commercial Services in areas of corporate governance, as well as building strong and lasting internal and external relationships.

What can we offer to you?

This is a fantastic opportunity for a specialist planning lawyer to take a step up into a senior role, taking on new challenges and management responsibilities.  Your development is important to us, so we will support you throughout as you take this next step in your legal career.

Through our partnership with Browne Jacobson LLP, with whom we work on a number of legal matters, we’re delighted to be able to offer the successful candidate a unique opportunity for mentoring support, helping you to settle into the role and to develop the skills you will need in order to thrive.  This includes:

  1.  A dedicated mentor from Browne Jacobson. Your mentor will be an experienced member of their planning law team.  They will be available at the end of the phone to support you as needed and to meet regularly to discuss ongoing matters;
  2. The opportunity to attend any internal training events at Browne Jacobson and the chance to shadow their planning lawyers where unique training opportunities arise; and
  3. Support from Browne Jacobson on any complex planning matters where you can learn from advice they provide direct to the Council.

Are we right for you?

NWLDC is a solution-focussed council.  Through listening and fair and balanced decision-making, we strive to do the best we possibly can for our community.

Legal Services play a vital role in ensuring good governance and helping officers find solutions to problems with a ‘can do’ approach.  The Legal Services team has an existing external client base of 32 clients, with plans to grow it even further.

You will be joining a team of specialist lawyers, each with their own areas of expertise, including contracts and procurement, property, regulatory and enforcement.  Our structure enables everybody to focus on their own specialisms whilst also being exposed to other areas of law through close working relationships with colleagues.

You will be supported by a first-class administration and practice management team, as well as working closely with information governance colleagues as needed.

As a Council we are embracing flexible working, acknowledging that the old days of 9-5 at the office do not need to be the norm.  Your role will be classed as a hybrid role, recognising that there may be times when you need to attend the offices (for example, to attend a committee meeting) but outside of that, as long as it works for us too, we are happy for you to take a flexible approach to your working arrangements.

Are you right for us?

We want you to succeed in this role.  To do so, you will need to be able to undertake work in the areas of planning and regional development; S106 agreements; planning enforcement; permitted development; and compulsory purchase orders.  You will also need to be comfortable acting as advisor to the Council’s planning committee and as an advocate at public/ planning inquiries and all courts.  This will be subject to experience and relevant training, including the mentoring support from Browne Jacobson, as you develop into the role.

You will need to be able to advise in the context of local government law and therefore experience of this is desirable but not essential, as we would hope that this develops over time.

To fit in well with the team, you will be proactive, a quick learner, able to work flexibly and someone who can bring enthusiasm to the role.

If you would like to know more about the role feel free to contact Kate Hiller, Legal Services Team Manager on 01530 454379 or by email to kate.hiller@nwleicestershire.gov.uk

 

You can apply for any of our posts online at https://www.nwleics.gov.uk/pages/jobs_and_careers

Applications must be made using the on-line application process.

Disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the job will be guaranteed an interview.

We welcome applications from all sections of the community.

Closing Date: Sunday 19 September 2021

7 months and not even counting!

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…

Getting the Hang of Data Protection

by Rebecca Elliott, Solicitor

For a long time I have found that very few people really understand the implications and requirements of Data Protection Legislation and simply add it in to agreements because they have to.

This week after some work with our Data Protection Officer, Nicola, it finally clicked into place for me as to exactly why we are insisting on the certain requirements in, what seems like, everything  we do.

And the answer… well its really just common sense so I wanted to share this.

Data Protection in the context of the Data Protection Act 2018 relates to personal data, so anything that identifies a person e.g. name, address, date of birth, address, email address.

When this is collected from someone that person will be aware of the reasons they are providing the information (or at least they should be).  For example, they are signing up for a course and need to provide their email address so that course materials can be sent over or their phone number so that if there is a change of venue this can be communicated.

It is not necessary to go into this level of detail so long as the person providing the data knows that it will be used to facilitate the course they are signing up to.

Further, it might not be appropriate to go through this sort of detail in a phone call or enquiry email so the person (the data subject) can be referred to a Privacy Statement.

Privacy statements are documents that explain exactly how data will be used and how long it will be kept for.  This might include if the information is going to be passed on to third parties.  These are often found on an organisations website as links can easily be provided.

So, carrying on with the example of signing up for a course, the person or the organisation providing the course may not be doing this themselves, they may be using an independent 3rd party expert to present the course.  It may therefore be necessary for participant’s names, email addresses and contact numbers to be passed on.  And this is fine, as long as the data subject was aware of this at the time they gave their details.

The third party will then become either a Data Processor or a Data Controller in their own right of that data.

A Data Processor only uses the data as specifically told.  For example if they are told that they can email out course materials then they can but they should not use the email address for any other purposes e.g. requesting feedback on the course.

If however you do wish to pass the discretion to use the personal data as they see fit then that third party will become a data controller.  They send whatever they see fit to the email addresses without your direct say so.

As a Data Controller the third party must ensure that they abide by the Data Protection Legislation and will be liable in their own right for any data breaches.  Just because they have the discretion to use the data as they see fit, it must still be compliant with the data protection legislation.

However, again, if you are passing on Data to a third party to act as a Data Controller you must have made the data subject aware that you would be doing this when you collect their Data.  This reinforces the need for a comprehensive and robust privacy statement.

So whenever you are going to be collecting and handling people’s personal data always think carefully about why and how you wish to use this data and make sure the correct safeguards are in place.  Data Protection Legislation is not in place to make life difficult nor discourage the use and sharing of data, rather to make sure it is handled in the right way whenever it is used or shared.

If you have any questions about Data Protection do not hesitate to contact our Data Protection Officer on dpo@nwleicestershire.gov.uk

Top Tips for Statement Writing in Civil Proceedings for Local Authority Officers

by Kerryn Woollett, Regulatory and Enforcement Solicitor

  1. Witness statements should be written in the first person.
  2. Witness statements should follow the chronological sequence of the events.
  3. Witness statements should be divided into numbered paragraphs.
  4. Each paragraph should, as far as possible, be confined to a distinct portion of the subject.
  5. Witness statements must state:
    1. the full name of the witness;
    2. the address at which he or she works;
    3. the position he or she holds;
    4. the name of his or her employer; and
    5. that he or she is the employee of a party to the proceedings (and which party that is).
  6. Include details of how long the current positon has been held.
  7. Also include details of any previous positions held, provided these are relevant, for example if you have been the Licensing Team Manager for 2 years but prior to that you were a Licensing Officer for 15 years this would be relevant.
  8. Include details of any other relevant experience and/or qualifications.
  9. Witness statements must indicate:
    1. which statements in it are made from the witness’s own knowledge and which are matters of information or belief, and
    2. the source of any matters of information or belief.
  10. All numbers, including dates, should be expressed in figures.
  11. If you need to be authorised to take certain action (for example serve a notice, enter property etc.) a copy of your authorisation document should be exhibited to your statement.
  12. Each exhibit should be identified, using the initials of the person making the statement, numbered consecutively within the statement and be in bold, for example ‘KW1’.
  13. Any documents referred to, for example, letters, photographs, notices etc. should be exhibited, unless exhibited to a colleague’s statement.
  14. Where a witness refers to an exhibit or exhibits, he or she should state ‘I refer to the (description of exhibit) marked ‘…’’.
  15. Witness statements must be verified by a statement of truth, the wording of which is as follows “I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”
  16. Where a witness makes more than one witness statement to which there are exhibits, in the same proceedings, the numbering of the exhibits should run consecutively throughout and not start again with each witness statement.
  17. Exhibits should be preceded by a cover page.
  18. The pages of a witness statements should be numbered consecutively.
  19. The last page of a witness statement should not include the statement of truth or signature alone. The last page should include the last paragraph of the statement along with the statement of truth and signature.
  20. Witness statements should be signed and dated – the date should be the date on which the statement is signed.

If you need any support with witness statement writing, please do not hesitate to contact us at legal@nwleicestershire.gov.uk

An update from NWL Legal

by Meera Patel, Trainee Solicitor

The Coronavirus is giving rise to the need to adapt the way in which local authorities currently work to meet the unique challenge the pandemic presents.

North West Leicestershire Legal are still available to provide up to the minute, practical advice on the usual services we cover and as a result of the pandemic, the latest developments in a range of areas; key legal changes, advice that has been issued in the areas of governance, procurement and state aid.

Some recent changes and guidance provided below;

We are keen to keep in touch and hear how clients are maintaining operations during this unprecedented time. Please contact us if you require any support. We are still working remotely and fully accessible in aiding legal advice.

Benefits of Public Service Legal Work

by Meera Patel, Trainee Solicitor

Furthering the Public Good

One of the main and most important reason why lawyers work in house for local authorities is because it gives them an opportunity to become involved in decisions affecting their local community.

As an in-house local authority lawyer you support an important public cause – equal access to justice for local people and groups. Such a cause can provide a feeling of personal satisfaction and achievement that you might not gain defending large corporations in the private practice sector.

Better Work Life Balance

I have worked for the public sector for six years and not all of those in the legal sector. One of the most important attributes for me and a key decision why I applied for training contracts within local authorities was because of the emphasis on a work life balance for all employees.

There are no fixed nine-to-five work days. Employees have flexible schedules and opportunities to work from home and/or part-time hours. Such practices are common for in-house public sector lawyers, especially those at North West Leicestershire District Council.

Public sector government lawyers are not under the same pressure as private practice lawyers to meet high billable hours or fee targets. The work culture is often more relaxed as the focus is on providing a solution based service rather than profit.

Valuable Experience and Training Mentoring and Networking Opportunities

As a Trainee Solicitor at North West Leicestershire District Council, an authority that is a part of the East Midlands Lawshare consortium and has valuable connections with other local authorities, fire & rescue authorities, universities, national parks, NHS trusts and town and parish councils, I have had a lot of exposure to training opportunities, networking events and mentoring opportunities. Such opportunities have helped me to build relations with a number of professionals including public sector lawyers and lawyers within private practice, whom I can turn to for advice and are readily available to provide training and support.

The lawyers at North West Leicestershire District Council have the support of senior staff to attend training sessions both within the EM Lawshare framework and other private companies to further their professional development.

Whilst working at North West Leicestershire District Council I have had the pleasure of working closely with team members to market our services externally given the current clients’ needs and having to be more commercially driven. NWLDC have been very forward thinking in their approach as a Local Authority and implemented NWL Legal to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our clients whilst understanding the remits we work within.

Do I Need a Public Consultation?

This note provides guidance to Officers on when they should carry out a public consultation when they are making changes to services or implementing a project. It also sets out the principles that need to be followed in order for a consultation to be appropriate and lawful.

Do I need to consult?

There are three stages to this question:

1. Is there a specific duty to consult that is set out in the legislation and/or statutory guidance that I am working under? For example consultation is required on:

a) the Council’s proposed budget (Local Government Finance Act 1992)

b) Matters of Housing Management (s105 Housing Act 1985)

c) Public Sector Equality Duty (s149 Equality Act 2010)

If a consultation is required, the people specified in the legislation as needing to be consulted must be consulted.

2.Does the “Best Value” duty to consult apply? Under s3 of the Local Government Act 1999 and Best Value Guidance, a consultation is needed if:

a) the Council is making changes (and in particular reductions) to the services being delivered;

b) the Council is reducing or ending funding to an external organisation

If a consultation is required then representatives of tax/rate payers, services users and interested parties must be consulted.

3.Is a consultation needed in the interests of fairness? For example:

a) Have we previously said that we would consult before doing something?

b) Have we consulted in the past before doing the same thing?

c) Will the impact of the decision or project be particularly serious on one location or section of the public?

d) Is this a significant change to the way the Council has done things in the past?

If a consultation is needed, the affected people or bodies need to be consulted.

What makes a good (and lawful) consultation?

The Courts have given some guiding principles to follow in order to ensure a consultation is satisfactory. These are known as the Gunning Principles[1].  These principles are:

a) The consultation must be at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage. It must not be a “box-ticking exercise” which cannot impact on the decision being made.

b) The proposer must give sufficient information to allow intelligent consideration and response.

c) Adequate time must be given for consideration and response.

d) The product of consultation must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising any decision proposals.

[1] R v London Borough of Brent, ex p Gunning [1985] LGR 168