About us

We are the government’s principal legal advisers. Our core purpose is to help the government to govern well, within the rule of law.

We do this by providing legal advice on the development, design and implementation of government policies and decisions, drafting secondary legislation and working with Parliamentary Counsel on primary legislation, and representing the government in court.

We are a non ministerial government department.

Who we are

We have more than 2,000 employees, around 1,400 of whom are solicitors or barristers.

We provide a legal service to the majority of central government departments, including:

  • Cabinet Office
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Department for Education
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department for Exiting the European Union
  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Department for International Development
  • Department for International Trade
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Home Office
  • HM Treasury
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Ministry of Justice

Parliamentary and advisory work

Governments draw continuously upon the skills of their lawyers as they bring to life the policies pledged in their election manifestos. GLD lawyers are called upon to advise whether a policy can be implemented under existing legislation and, if so, how. If new, primary legislation is required, GLD lawyers play a key role in helping to prepare the bill and taking it through Parliament. Where this is the case, GLD lawyers can expect to work closely with officials, ministers and Parliamentary counsel. They brief ministers and support them in Parliamentary debates.

GLD lawyers also draft secondary legislation much of which will impact upon the community as a whole. A proportion of this drafting is done by a specialist team of drafters who work closely with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

In addition, our lawyers need to ensure that all the legal implications of a policy have been thought through. It is also their job to ensure that the legislation they produce will withstand the scrutiny of both the courts and Parliament.

The role of GLD lawyers in the development and implementation of new legislation is intellectually demanding and unique.


The Litigation Group provides litigation services to the majority of government departments and executive agencies, as well as many non-departmental public bodies, and its work often raises questions of constitutional importance. The Group’s work encompasses litigation in public and private law as well as supporting public inquiries. Lawyers attend hearings in a wide range of courts, including Coroners’ Courts, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Supreme Court.

GLD is Lexcel accredited, this is a legal quality mark awarded by the Law Society.


The GLD has a specialist Commercial Law Group of around 120 commercial law specialists. As the government seeks to reduce the levels of public spending, the work of its commercial lawyers has never been more important. Whether they are undertaking large-scale complex public procurement or day-to-day transactional commercial matters, it is essential that government departments obtain value from all their contracts. To enable them to do so, commercial lawyers in GLD provide legal advice on a wide range of matters, including public procurement law, contract law, intellectual property and state aid.

Commercial lawyers work closely with their clients (the procurement officers, contract managers, commercial directors and other in-house lawyers) to help them develop sound policies, devise robust commercial and procurement strategies and to construct resilient contractual arrangements with suppliers.


GLD’s Employment Group, which embraces both advisory and litigation work, is now one of the largest employment law practices in the country. GLD’s employment lawyers act for departments of state and various public bodies in cases brought before the Employment Tribunal, the County Court, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and beyond.

Employment lawyers also advise on non-contentious matters, such as employment policies and practices and compliance with new legislation and they seek to provide their clients with training and information to help prevent employment problems in the future.

Bona vacantia

The Latin term ‘bona vacantia’ means vacant goods and is the name given to ownerless property, which by law passes to the Crown. The Treasury Solicitor acts for the Crown to administer the estates of people who die intestate (without a valid will) and without known kin and collects the assets of dissolved companies and other various ownerless goods in England and Wales.

GLD deals with this through its Bona Vacantia Division.

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