Birmingham City Council spends around £9m a year on 'external' legal services because it does not have enough in-house lawyers.
The authority has around 190 lawyers, more than any other council, but still has to be propped up by private law firms.
Kate Charlton, the city solicitor and monitoring officer, told the Co-ordinating scrutiny committee on Friday (January 11) that the legal department had undergone a review around what areas to prioritise in the face of budget constraints admitting 'lawyers aren't cheap'.
The council had some high profile legal disputes in 2018.
Their controversial decision to close the Fairway day centre in Kings Norton was ultimately quashed by the High Court , while the long-running row with roads contractor Amey rumbled on with the authority accusing the company of refusing a court order to pay back £60m , a claim Amey denies.
Expert legal advice was also required to formulate the council's Clean Air Zone plans .
On average the authority deals with around 8,000 instructions every year.
Ms Charlton told the committee that on top of the budget for legal services another £9m was spent on 'external legal advice', including support from law firms, advice from counsel (barristers) as well as to cover any costs and compensation that maybe awarded against the authority.
"Lawyers aren't cheap," she said.
"We have 190 lawyers in legal services, they are made up of permanent legal staff and also agent/locum staff.
"We are the biggest legal team of all the local authorities.
"Some of the work we do that the council needs we absolutely don't have the skill-set, particularly regarding some of the advice on clean air, particularly on the Amey issue we have had to go external, not just because of not having the legal expertise but also because of the amount of time it takes that we needed a concentrated team on that.
"We do spend some money procuring external legal advice and it is because I don't have the capacity in legal services to do that.
"We spend approximately £1.4m of that £9m pot procuring external legal firms to support work that we need to do."
Ms Charlton stated that a new assistant director was to be employed from next month to oversee legal services and explore a way of combining them across councils within the West Midlands Combined Authority.