Simpson Millar creates new jobs in Leeds
After a competitive tender process, national law firm Simpson Millar LLP has won a place on the Legal Services Commission’s legal services panel – a contract which will create 20 jobs in the city.
The Community Legal Advice contract, which is due to begin on 1 May, will involve a minimum of 16,500 hours of legal advice delivered through Simpson Millar’s specialist legal helpline in the first year. This will thereafter increase incrementally – potentially exceeding 24,000 hours by 2013.
Simpson Millar is amongst only a handful of firms on the new panel, after more than 30 firms submitted their bids, and one of the largest providers of employment legal advice.
The firms invited to tender for the contract were asked to consider areas such as resilience, value for money, quality of service, equality and innovation.
According to the Legal Services Commission the field of competing firms was "very strong" and Craig Jones, operations director at Simpson Millar who led the firm’s tender team said their success was partially due to a significant investment in new technology which will allow the firm to deliver consistent, efficient and value for money legal services.
Mr Jones commented: "We wanted to demonstrate an innovative approach to the contract and are keen to work closely with the other successful providers to foster consistency – reducing the costs of both implementation and execution, and of course ensure success of the overall scheme."
This contract will deliver quality legal advice and services to thousands of disadvantaged people in a manner which is widely considered cost effective and real value for money for UK tax payers.
Julie Parkin, Leeds-based contracts manager from the Legal Services Commission, said: "The increase in legal aid availability is great news for people in need, and it's also an opportunity for law firms and agencies seeking to take-on more work in a difficult economic environment. "
"The best advice for people with money troubles, employment advice or facing losing their home is to get advice early. Seeking trusted legal aid advice early from a qualified source can help people’s problems spiralling into a major crisis. Legal aid gives people access to justice when they need it but can’t afford it. This is a vital use of taxpayers’ money by ensuring fairness and allows social mobility by resolving people’s problems."
Simpson Millar is now looking to recruit 15 advisors for its legal helpline in Leeds. In addition, the firm will be recruiting a number of senior employment lawyers to manage the cases and support the helpline advisors.
"Everyone from our lawyers to IT, HR and the customer services team really pulled together on this project," said Mr Jones. "Once we begin the work, customer service and satisfaction will be our focus and we are currently looking for people who can demonstrate a high level of service skills to join our existing legal helpline team. "
"In a time of economic instability and widespread redundancy I am of course delighted that we are able to offer so many new jobs," added Peter Watson, Simpson Millar’s managing partner. "We are keen to work with the local law colleges, business schools and universities to fill both some of these jobs and similar roles in the future. This is an ideal opportunity for law graduates to begin their career in a modern legal practice and gain experience across a wide range of legal matters."
Jo Carpanini who originally studied to become a barrister now works on Simpson Millar’s legal helpline in Leeds. She said: "I was studying the Bar Vocational Course when I was offered a job on Simpson Millar’s legal helpline. I seized the opportunity with both hands as the offer came at a time when I was considering my future career options. From day one it has been a very hands and client facing role, requiring us to provide prompt and accurate advice on various legal issues over the telephone, which is extremely rewarding."
Mr Jones concluded: "In my view, these are exciting times. The initiative by the Legal Services Commission to find high quality legal advice at competitive prices is a growing trend amongst businesses and organisations across the country. It is a sensible move and law firms need to respond by developing their infrastructure and management processes to deliver such a service in a competitive market. "
"It will require extensive but wise investment in information technology and for firms to engage what has until recently been considered non-legal skills such as customer service. This is the real meaning behind the phrase ‘Tesco Law’. It requires the management team and the business as a whole to encourage intellectual freedom for staff to conceive new and innovative ways to deliver legal services." The Legal Services Commission (LSC) runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales – working in partnership with solicitors and not-for-profit organisations to provide information, advice and legal representation to people in need.