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Why choose local government?

Posted by
21 Nov 2017
Local Government LawyerHaving specialised in legal recruitment within the public sector for over eight years, with considerable focus on recruiting into local government legal teams, it baffles me how many people underestimate this sector. I have continually found that candidates from other sectors who make the transition to local government are genuinely astounded by the fast-paced, collaborative and dynamic working environment in which they find themselves. However, so many of my clients continue to struggle to recruit successfully into their teams when they offer so much. With this in mind, I thought I would take a moment to highlight the major plus points of pursuing a career in local government.

Evolving from the stereotype

I can honestly say that, when working in local government, what people expect from the offset is so incredibly different to what they experience. As one of my clients at a County Council said recently; “To say that I stumbled upon this gem of a career would be an understatement!”

There undoubtedly exists a stereotypical perception that local government represents an outdated working environment which affords the ambitious solicitor little room for progression or honing their ‘commercial’ skills. The reality could not be further from the truth. Career progression is key for many, and our local government clients offer a range of positions with the scope for quick promotion. Principal Solicitor posts are increasingly filled by solicitors with a mixed or private practice background, and it is common place for solicitors of two to five years PQE to find themselves promoted based on their merit and contribution to the authority. 

Agile working and technology  

In recent years local government has recognised the need to keep up with modern advancements in both technology and working arrangements, resulting in measurable changes in working habits. The vast majority of our clients now offer agile working and utilise technologically advanced case management systems. Rather than the antiquated picture of days gone by, local government today offers an ever changing working environment which can accommodate a range of office hours and presence. Technology is prevalent, indeed many of our local government clients conduct interviews, client meetings and important correspondence via computer. 

Varied workload

The type of work is also key for many when considering the path they wish their career to take. Historically, there has been a misconception that local government working is dull. On the contrary, many who move from the private to the public sector frequently comment on how monotonous their working day was previously compared to the diversity they find in local government. No working day is ever the same. The breadth and variety of tasks is considerable, given the diversity of the duties and functions performed by a local authority. Our clients’ transactions are generally of high value and involve multiple stakeholders and partners. Feedback from those who make the transition to local government is that they enjoy the continual interaction with the various key players and figures. You are trusted to meet with key clients and ensure all is running as planned. 

Collaborative working environments 

Moreover, the working environment offered by our clients is collaborative and encourages exposure to other areas of the legal services team, in addition to other services within the council. The political environment obviously plays a key factor in determining projects and plans, and with a current state of political instability and insecurity, this makes for a life in the public sector which is undergoing pioneering change at a fast and exhilarating pace. 

A need for commerciality 

Traditionally, those from private firms steered clear of local government as I think they feared that with only private experience they would be pigeonholed as not possessing the correct skill set. This is simply not the case. Our clients are increasingly corporate in their approach and commercially astute. Indeed, many of our main clients currently outsource their legal services to other public and private sector bodies, such as the NHS and local firms. 

Making a difference

The final salient factor I wanted to mention is the importance of the services delivered in local government legal teams. The councils’ function is key to the local community and has a direct impact on the population. In a world full of apps and computer screens my clients find it extremely satisfying to be able to function on a ‘local’ basis and make a real difference to people’s lives. Many who make the transition are surprised by the sense of pride they feel in their work. Seeing a major project through from inception to completion and the resulting impact on the local community is a real winner.

So, with all this in mind, perhaps it is time to hop over the proverbial fence and pursue a career within local government! If you are interested in hearing more, or discussing other public sector bodies, please contact us today. We recruit nationwide and receive new instructions from our clients on a daily basis. We are informative and well placed to advise on current market trends and local government workings.  
For your next role in local government, please get in touch by emailing kate.jasper@sellickpartnership.co.uk or call 0161 834 1642. Alternatively, apply for our latest roles. Browse roles

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