LAW firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has strengthened its public sector and local government practice with a number of senior hires across the UK, including Sian Ballingall, who joins in Southampton.

Sian is a real estate and regeneration specialist with extensive local government experience, advising on a broad range of projects, including development schemes, delivery and trading structures, and local government law.

 She joins WBD's Southampton office from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council where she held the post of head of legal services and deputy monitoring officer, having supported and advised two of the predecessor unitary authorities on local government reorganisation.

Prior to joining local government, Sian was a senior associate in the real estate team at Clifford Chance, acting on a variety of work, including acquisitions, disposals and landlord and tenant work. Also joining the team are London-based legal director Sarah White, Leeds-based managing associate Helen Robinson and Newcastle-based associate Umi Filby.

Iain Greenshields, WBD's head of public sector, said: "WBD has taken a very conscious decision to focus more on public sector work in the last 18 months, and the recruitment of Sian, Sarah, Helen and Umi shows the scale of our commitment in this area. Our local government practice in particular has more than doubled in the last four years, and we feel the time is right to invest in that sector now, to offer an enhanced service and team to our local authority clients."

The new hires follow the appointment last year of partner Deborah Ramshaw.

Deborah advises central and local government departments and agencies, NHS bodies, utilities in the postal, energy and transport sectors, education clients and registered housing providers on a wide range of procurement matters and legislation WBD works closely with UK Local and Central Government authorities, as well as other organisations in the wider public and third sector.

The firm advises the UK government legal department, providing a full-service of legal expertise across a range of disciplines, including general commercial, litigation and employment advice.

WBD was appointed in Spring 2017 as a Tier 1 firm on the Crown Commercial Service Framework (CCS) for Central Government Departments, Agencies and Arms’ Length Bodies; the firm was also appointed to the CCS Framework for the wider public sector in the Autumn 2018.