IRLSR: key proposals and reactions so far

This post is the text of the opening keynote address delivered to the Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the future of legal services in England & Wales (held online on 15 September 2020). A PDF of the address is also available for download here.

Every time I looked at the draft of the final report, I would change something or elaborate on aspects of it.  It wasn’t that I had changed my mind, but that I was always trying to make my meaning and intention as clear as possible.  With the report[1] having been submitted to the Lord Chancellor and published, I am therefore content for now that the report should speak for itself – subject to one caveat that I shall return to later.

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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.

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‘Client’ or ‘customer’: does the label matter?

Earlier this month, I was invited by the Executive School of Management, Technology and Law at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland to deliver a keynote presentation on the topic of whether ‘client’ or ‘customer’ is a distinction with or without meaning.  Although I had mulled this over many times before, this was the first time that I had really given it any sustained thought.  I was slightly surprised by my conclusion!  I had previously been of the view that it was largely a matter of personal preference (or prejudice), but in the end lawyers sold and – whatever they were called – others bought, and the label didn’t really matter.  I’ve now come to the view that it really does matter. Continue reading