Legal services regulation: turning point, or point of no return?

Earlier this month, I was invited to give the Wickwire Memorial Lecture at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Canada. Frederick B. (Ted) Wickwire QC, a graduate of the School, was the President of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. He died in office at the age of 52 in 1991.

Ted Wickwire was noted for his commitment to public service and to uncompromising professionalism. Each year, a lecture is held in his memory, focusing on an aspect of professional ethics.

It was a great honour to deliver this year’s Lecture, albeit with the constraints of virtual presence. The full text of the Lecture is available for download here.

The Lecture presented an opportunity for me to reflect on some of the underlying themes of my independent review of legal services regulation in England & Wales. In particular, I explored the emerging and increasingly uncomfortable tension between regulation and professionalism.

Continue reading

The ethics of pro bono

A second nation-wide lockdown is now less than 48 hours away.  Many of our fellow citizens will as a consequence face unexpected and unwelcome legal issues, and I suspect many of their needs will be met through pro bono provision.  

I was therefore honoured and delighted to offer some opening thoughts this morning to a very important and timely seminar hosted by LawWorks and the University of Bristol as part of Pro Bono Week.  I was invited to share my reflections on the two-year Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation that I concluded in June and the associated landscape of legal professional ethics. Here are those reflections (also available as a PDF).

Continue reading

Confidence in regulation

This is a conference* about ‘trust in the market’ and building confidence within the sphere of legal services regulation.  I shall therefore open with the observation (or reminder) that regulation is a public intervention in otherwise private transactions and free markets.  It must therefore stem from a political judgement that we should not have complete trust and confidence, and must instead rely on the intervention in the market. issue of how confidence in regulation develops and is then sustained is a fascinating one.  It begs preliminary questions of what we mean by ‘confidence’, and from whose standpoint we are assessing it.

Continue reading