Geoff Wild has been shortlisted for The Lawyer magazine's In-House Lawyer of the Year award, while the department he manages – Kent Legal Services – is one of five local authorities in the running for the In-House Public Sector Team of the Year.
The five authorities are: Kent Legal Services; Essex Legal Services; the London Borough of Brent; the London Borough of Enfield; and the London Borough of Lambeth.
The other two public bodies shortisted in this category are the Solicitor's Office of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs and TfL (Transport for London).
On Wild, the judges remarked: "Geoff Wild of Kent County Council, who developed the ‘in-house private practice’, has changed the landscape of legal services through combining the best elements of commercial entrepreneurship with a staunch public service ethos. In so doing at Kent he has built a law practice of more than 125 lawyers with an annual turnover of nearly £12m and a profit centre of over £2m, a surplus that goes directly to funding the council and relieving a burden that would otherwise have to be met through taxation."
The Lawyer explained its selections as follows:
- Brent: "In what was a particularly busy year, the London Borough of Brent’s four-strong legal team provides expert advice across the council’s services, ensuring clear governance and accountability as well as support to internal and external clients."
- Lambeth: "A significant challenge for the in-house legal team at the London Borough of Lambeth last year was to help support the establishment of the first Lambeth Youth Co-operative. It was also closely involved in supporting the Children and Young People’s Services Department’s move towards new service delivery models."
- Essex: "Essex County Council’s Essex Legal Services (ELS) is a trading unit within the council operating a zero-based budget with an annual turnover in excess of £8m. Last year was exceptional, with the ELS team delivering several prestigious projects including helping Essex become the first local authority to use social impact bonds to finance a project to provide multi-systemic therapy that helps keep at-risk children out of care."
- Enfield: "The legal team at the London Borough of Enfield Legal Services was instrumental in helping deliver the ambitious Alma Regeneration Project, which included an uplift in the number of new homes from 720 to 1,000, improved green space and secure play areas, and a green link to the Ponders End Park. The project exemplified the legal team’s vision, management strategy and the ability of its staff to work across disciplines and across the council itself."
- Kent: "Kent Legal Services is unlike virtually any other public sector legal team or in-house legal department. The department trades, insofar as regulatory and statutory powers allow, and has provided services to more than 350 bodies, councils and organisations. Last year it made a contribution to the council of around £3m, invaluable at a time of budgetary pressure."
The citation for TfL reads: "Transport for London is the owner and operator of the largest integrated public transport network in Europe, managing assets of over £23bn. The legal team’s work is diverse, technically challenging and novel, particularly so in 2012 when TfL Legal played a pivotal role in advising on the mayoral elections in May and the Olympic Games shortly after, all the while providing legal support on a daily basis on a series of major projects affecting Londoners’ lives."