Local government lawyer: job description

Local government lawyers are qualified solicitors and barristers who act on behalf of and give legal advice to council staff.

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Local authorities employ more than 3,000 qualified lawyers.

What does a local government lawyer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Local government lawyers are responsible for:

  • directing council employees in the legal preparation of policies and strategic planning
  • handling litigation
  • writing legal documents
  • providing advice about all social and commercial legal matters including employment issues, trading standards, childcare and property management.

Typical employers for local government lawyers

Local government lawyers are employed by local authorities (city, county, district, borough and metropolitan councils). Most Government Legal Service vacancies are for qualified lawyers, although a small number of training vacancies are offered each year. Early applications are essential at all academic and vocational stages.

Pupillages for barristers are listed in The Pupillage Handbook and TARGETjobs Law. Trainee contracts for solicitors may be arranged up to two years in advance and are advertised in careers services and publications such as TARGETjobs Law. Vacancies for qualified legal professionals appear in national newspapers, The Lawyer and the Law Gazette.

Qualifications and training required

You can only become a lawyer if you have a good degree in either a law or non-law subject. Qualification is via the bar professional training course (BPTC) for barristers or the legal practice course (LPC) for solicitors. Graduates without a law degree must also pass a conversion course, often referred to as the CPE or GDL. Following academic qualification, barristers must take a vocational pupillage for a minimum of one year, while solicitors must undertake a two-year Law Society approved training contract.

Key skills for local government lawyers

  • good written and verbal communication skills
  • teamworking skills
  • versatility
  • independence
  • resilience

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