I lead the Local Government sector team, pulling together expertise and experience in each practice relevant to local authorities. My specialism is employment law, from equalities through business re-engineering, workforce transfers, policy reviews to union negotiations.
Tel: +44 (0)870 733 0625
Best brains in ...
Chief officer recruitment and terminations (including statutory protection cases), equal pay and single status, business re-engineering and workforce transfers/secondments.
Highlights of your career so far?
Helping to solve a £30 million affordability gap in dealing with equal pay back-pay claims. Assisting a county council to take out 20% of its pay bill without service reductions and implementing a mixed economy transfer/secondment for a local authority workforce in a strategic partnership.
Most challenging job you've ever done?
Investigating a deputy chief executive, director of finance, and six senior colleagues for dereliction of duty and misconduct issues.
What about outside the UK?
Advising a client in Brazil on public-private partnerships and delivery models for joint ventures between local government, federal government and the private sector.
Give an example of your great client service?
In my leadership role, I spend a lot of time talking to chief executives and senior figures in local government. I also advise the Local Government Minister as vice chair of the Advisory Panel on Beacon Councils. This helps me to set legal advice in a practical context. But as an employment lawyer I have to make myself available 24/7. There is nothing so unpredictable as people, and there is always a great deal of emotion involved, whether it is acting for the council or the officer concerned.
Best example of a creative legal solution?
One example would be using the Local Government Finance rules to allow an authority to borrow against its income stream without creating a capital asset. And, as a result avoided the client making drastic cuts in services by spreading cost over a number of years.
Another example is applying the Retention of Employment Model to allow a local authority to achieve a strategic services partnership in which some employees chose to transfer under TUPE, and others chose to remain employed by the council, and not be seconded to the joint venture company to deliver services.
How do you get under the skin of a client's business?
Having worked in and around the sector for over 15 years, I understand the drivers in the public sector are different to those in the private sector. It is important to share in the client's ambitions and understand the economic and political context in which they are to be delivered. I like to spend time with the leaders of the organisation, discussing the outcome that they desire, and then think through the options to get there, so as to achieve a 'best fit'.
What's your greatest contribution to Wragge & Co's corporate responsibility?
Trekking to 4500 metres in the High Andes of Peru to raise £100,000 for Sense, a charity for those with sensory impairments and being a governor of an inner-city comprehensive school for the last four years.
What's been written or said about you that you're most proud of?
'The best compliment I can pay to both you and Wragges is that if anyone I ever knew had employment difficulties, I would send them to you without hesitation....that's more than a recommendation,' Jo Miller, Deputy Chief Executive, Bradford Metropolitan District Council.