Q&A with Rachel Antonelli - Interim Deputy Monitoring Officer

4 mins

Rachel Antonelli is a local government legal specialist, and a committed senior leader with over twenty years of experience in the public sector. Rachel started her trainee legal career at York City Council and discovered her love for law, particularly in relation to litigation. 

Rachel’s fantastic career with York City Council lasted an impressive 23 years, and she expanded her skillset over this time to deal with complex governance matters. Rachel left the Council in 2022 as the Head of Democratic Governance & Deputy Monitoring Officer. Following this, she was ready for a new challenge and decided to take the leap into a completely new role as the Head of Corporate and Operational Law with a nearby police organisation.

Rachel subsequently returned to local government, working through Sellick Partnership as a locum in an interim Governance role. Now she has taken on an interim role, working as Interim Deputy Monitoring Officer of the newly established York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, working with other executive members to lead and develop the organisation.

We sat down with Rachel to discuss the importance of her role and why working for local government is special to her.

What does a typical day look like for you?

As the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority is in its early stages of development, my role involves getting the constitution off the ground. Everyday can be different as the role is hugely varied and fast paced. I have recently been involved with; pre-election preparations for the incoming mayor, setting up committee meetings, putting together plans for staff transferring across to the organisation, briefing members, risk assessment modification, and working on an induction plan for the new mayor.

What attracted you to the Interim Deputy Monitoring Officer position?

This role came at the best time for me – I was working as a Locum Governance Lawyer after leaving the police, but I was always on the lookout for the right senior role that would provide me with the opportunity to progress within my career. Local government is where I feel at home, and I was very excited about working with a newly established local government organisation and being a part of the formation of this.

What do you enjoy most in this role and what can be challenging?

For me, being able to share my ideas and thoughts is an aspect of the role I enjoy most – my views are listened to, and I feel that the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout my career in the public sector is still really valued which is very fulfilling. Meeting new people from different backgrounds and other specialisms is another element of my role I really enjoy; you get to know some really interesting people and build new connections.

Regarding the most challenging aspect of my role, as I mentioned previously, at times it can be very fast-paced and demanding, however the setting up of a new organisation was never going to be an easy assignment and I enjoy the challenges of my position. For example, a current challenge I am facing is around the uncertainty of what the plans for the organisation will be. This will change when the new elected mayor is appointed, as they will be in charge of what the future will look like for the Combined Authority.

Why local government?

There are number of reasons as to why I have always been drawn to working in local government. Accountability and the importance of democracy in local government is one of the main attractions. Throughout my career, I feel that the work I have carried out has made a valuable difference to the community. Flexibility is another element that has always attracted me, as when it comes to work-life balance, local authorities are very accommodating and recognise that everyone’s individual circumstances are different. I would also say that local government can be very exciting and dynamic – there are constant changes and challenges, and you get to enjoy a varied workload.  

You’ve worked in both permanent and locum roles, would you suggest locum roles to other legal professionals?

For the majority of my career, I have been employed permanently and initially I was apprehensive of working as a locum. However, I have been working as a locum now for some time and I would really recommend it. Sellick Partnership made this a seamless process for me.

My first experience as a locum with Sellick Partnership provided me with the opportunity to move back into local government, where I felt back at home. Working as a locum at this time was perfect for me, it allowed me to experience working with a different organisation, deal with new challenges and meet some great people!

Working as a locum provides flexibility which is amazing for me as it allows me to disconnect and have time to refocus on myself and family.

What advice would you give to other legal professionals considering a Deputy Monitoring Officer role?

If someone has never worked as a Head of Legal or Deputy Monitoring Officer before, I would say that you need to thoroughly understand how a local authority works. I also think that you need to have had some solid previous experience of working in a local authority to be able to perform in the role effectively. I would also recommend having a governance background, understanding the functions of the members and officers roles and how you need to support members.

Ultimately, working as a Head of Legal or Deputy Monitoring Officer is challenging, dynamic and hard work. However, the work is hugely rewarding and you really do feel like you make a difference!

Get in touch

If you are interested in the opportunities that working as a locum in the public sector can offer, please don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our specialist Consultants today. Alternatively, browse our current legal jobs on our website.