We understand that you will be keen to keep costs to a minimum whilst receiving expert, timely and appropriate legal advice to reduce the risk of financial loss and reputational risk to your Trust. When legal issues escalate and become protracted, this impacts on staff time and internal resource, putting additional strain on the Trust at an already difficult time.
Our aim is to become a key part of your in-house team. We are keen to work alongside your senior leadership/management team, supporting them as required with key decisions to help avoid legal issues from escalating and effectively manage issues at an early stage. We also work with you to assist the Board to ensure that the Trust remains compliant with all relevant law and regulation.
How it works
You will pay a fixed monthly fee for up to three hours of advice by phone or email per issue (and there is no limit to the number of issues on which advice may be sought each month) in any of the following key areas of legal need for academy trusts:
- employment matters
- property matters
- governance and constitutional issues
- commercial contracts.
If a particular issue is complex and will require more advice than is covered by the retainer, or if any face-to-face meetings are required, this will fall outside the scope of the retainer package, and will instead be carried out for you at our low public sector hourly rates.
The benefit of this arrangement is that it provides you with certainty of legal costs and the comfort that support and guidance is available at the end of the phone. In our experience, this arrangement encourages essential regular and early contact with us free from anxiety about costs. This assists us to help you avoid issues escalating and to ‘nip issues in the bud’ wherever possible.
In addition to the great value legal advice you will receive, as an academies retainer package client you will also have the benefit of the following added value services from us:
- A dedicated Client Relationship Manager, who will arrange a review call or meeting with you every year to discuss your satisfaction with our services.
- Regular newsletter updates – we produce a range of regular newsletters and e-bulletin updates including our ‘Education Matters’ and ‘HR Matters’ publications, which are specifically relevant for our education and employment clients.
- Access to BOSS online employment portal, which will enable you to access and download employment guidance notes, template documents and legal updates.
- Invitations to events and seminars – in particular, you might be interested in sending your Head of HR to attend our regular employment law ‘Early Bird’ seminars.
- Access to our secure on-line data rooms in respect of all transactions, litigation and advisory work that requires or would benefit from this resource.
What does it cost?
We will agree with you an initial fixed monthly fee for your retainer arrangement. The exact cost will be determined based on the size of the academy trust (by reference to number of schools, pupil numbers and staff numbers). All work carried out for you will be provided at our highly competitive public sector hourly rates.
It is important to us that our retainer arrangement works well for our clients and provides you with good value whilst also working for us. Your fixed monthly fee will therefore be reviewed every six months*. If your average monthly usage of the retainer is low, we will reduce the monthly fee for the following period accordingly.
Additionally, to ensure the retainer arrangement is fair we also apply an overall cap every six months, set initially at 25% of the retainer fee for that six month period.
This means that if your usage of the retainer in any six month period should exceed 125% of the total fee paid for that period, we will invoice you for our fees over that amount for that six month period. Similarly, if your usage is particularly low during any six month period and falls 25% below our retainer fee for that period, we will carry forward the amount of under-usage below 25% to the next six month period.
* Please note that we reserve the right to terminate the retainer following a review.
About Birketts’ Education Team
Our Education Team comprises lawyers with a particular commitment to this sector. The team is multi-disciplinary, bringing together senior lawyers with significant experience in advising a wide range of education institutions.
In addition to being a full service law firm, our Education Team has extensive experience advising academy trusts on a day-to-day basis. We have detailed technical knowledge of the relevant constraints imposed by both education and charity law, and the experience and expertise to advise quickly and comprehensively on all of your activities.
We are ranked in the first tier of law firms with expertise in the education sector in the directory Legal 500 [UK 2018]. We also deliver general and bespoke training on a wide range of topics relevant to the sector. We have insight into the workings of education bodies, many of our lawyers having held roles as governors of schools and board members of academies.
Our approach is both commercial and practical. We appreciate our clients’ need to focus on outcomes and solutions while taking into account budgets, regulations and reputation. We deliver a personal service and spend time getting to know our clients and how we can best support their objectives.
We offer a free initial consultation to any academy trusts interested in purchasing our academies retainer package. If you are interested in discussing this with us, please contact Liz Brownsell by email at [email protected] or 01473 406383. Alternatively, please email us at [email protected] requesting a call back.