A Midlands law firm is looking to take advantage of the Legal Aid shake-up.
The Government is seeking to cap the escalating budget to meet publicly funded criminal defences - spending has increased 37 per cent since 1997 - while maintaining quality.
A six-month review led by Lord Carter of Coles concluded in February with an interim report and, following consultation with the judiciary and the legal profession, his final recommendations are due in a matter of weeks.
Lord Carter is expected to propose price competitive tendering for all aspects of criminal defence work in order to achieve cost efficiencies. He believes savings can be made if a greater volume of work is allocated to a smaller supplier base and that firms holding smaller contracts will merge or form associations with other practices in order to meet any minimum contract size criteria that may be levied.
While many firms are shunning criminal Legal Aid work because of issues over rates and bureaucracy, Williamson & Soden say they are expanding this area of their business and are looking to recruit an additional qualified lawyer with duty solicitor experience.
"We are actively investing in our Legal Aid operation, so taking on an assistant solicitor will not only enable us to deal with an increase in our current workload, but will also leave us well placed to react to developments in the system," said partner Alan Bryce.
"Whichever of Lord Carter's recommendations are adopted, and many practitioners disagree with his ideas about a
move towards a competitive marketplace where large firms would act as preferred suppliers and handle sizeable blocks of work, we want to be in a position to bid for criminal legal aid contracts under the revised system of procurement."
Williamson and Soden has ten partners and operates in Solihull and Birmingham, advising small and medium-sized businesses.
The firm specialises in commercial litigation, businesses sales, purchases and start-ups, motorsport and employment law. It has an established personal injury, criminal law and property departments.