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Opportunity knocks for duty solicitors

Jul 18, 2014

In a bid to promote a more efficient legal system, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is implementing plans that will ripple across the whole criminal justice industry. Following months of consultation regarding the transformation of legal aid, it has emerged that, for the first time ever, there will be a tender for criminal justice legal aid work for solicitors. With duty solicitors competing for these contracts, it’s no surprise that Thornton & Lowe has been inundated with queries from businesses operating within the legal sector in recent weeks. What are we doing? Tendering will be split across different regions throughout the UK, and Thornton & Lowe has already started to work with candidates in four areas. Our recent expansion into the West Midlands has certainly put us in a good position to work with solicitors in other parts of Britain. With such a revolutionary change coming into effect, it’s understandable that many legal practices are a little bit giddy at the moment. This is certainly not conducive to putting together a successful tender for work. Ever the calming influence, we have been helping our clients to develop a tender library of best practice information, making sure this is ready and well developed. Additionally, we’ve been conducting gap analysis to ensure all tenders are as detailed and fluent as possible before they are officially submitted. Preparation is absolutely vital for this tender, and we’ve also been assessing potential partnering opportunities. By putting in this early groundwork, we will be able to focus on tailoring information and adding value to a tender, rather than attempting to find new details when the deadline for submissions is fast approaching. What is happening with legal aid? The provision of legal aid in the UK has been a thorny subject for a while now. In a bid to trim the nation’s substantial financial deficit, the government had warned that free legal advice would be curbed. This inevitably sparked a significant backlash, and lawyers have been protesting against proposed cuts for months. The government’s latest attempt to revamp the system has been rebuffed by the High Court. Three senior judges declared that draft plans to prevent anybody who has been in the UK for less than a year from receiving legal aid were unlawful and discriminatory. It’s a case of back to the drawing board for the government, as it continues to search for new ways to balance the books. Legal aid is a complex issue and there are many different strands to the MoJ’s plans to transform the system. The decision to launch tenders for criminal justice legal aid work will appease larger legal practices in particular, but smaller companies can also get in on the action with a well written bid. Small firms inevitably find it harder to balance their workload. Your average solicitor will be snowed under with criminal cases, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to focus on tender writing as well. This is where Thornton & Lowe’s team of bid management experts can really make a difference.

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