As private practice firms including Allen & Overy downsize their trainee intakes the successful legal arm of Kent County Council has introduced its first trainee programme as it also unveils a significant increase in profitability.
As of September, Kent Legal Services (KLS) will take on five trainees as it moves to grow its business. The legal arm, which is unique among in-house departments for generating income as a result of offering its services to external county councils, yesterday announced a rise in 2012/13 profits of 20% from £2m to £2.4m and a 9% increase in turnover from £11m to £12m. This represents an improvement on last year’s performance, when profit increased by 18% to £2m while turnover was up 10% to £11m.
Speaking to Legal Business, Geoff Wild (pictured), director of governance and law at Kent County Council, said: ‘We’re taking on a batch of five trainees. It’s the first time we’ve done a serious programme of training contracts. Over the past ten years, we might have developed three trainees in total. Starting in September, we’re going to take in a new batch each year and we’re developing the next generation of lawyers.’
KLS currently provides ad hoc legal services to over 300 public sector bodies nationwide. In 2010 it set up Law:Public; a joint venture with Geldards aimed at further extending its geographical reach and the range of services. Its profits together with £1.3m in efficiency savings means KLS has contributed £3.7m to the county council in the last year.
Wild said: ‘We’ve been looking to reduce our costs, overheads, and outgoings to make ourselves as efficient as possible, so we’ve invested a lot in case management systems and automation. The other area is an increased drive to develop our external client market.
‘With the squeeze on public sector finance, more and more public sector bodies are turning away from the private sector and looking for cost effective alternatives. We provide that for them. You can’t stand still in this market. Stopping is not an option. We’ve got to carry on in order to survive.’