Since January 2020, the Legal Services Board (LSB) has been on a mission: to require front-line regulators to assure themselves of the competence of their regulated practitioners throughout their careers. It issued a call for evidence, commissioned reports, and consulted* on its proposals. The process has now resulted in a new statutory statement of policy intended to ensure that regulators “have appropriate frameworks for continuing assurance of professional competence throughout the careers of the people they regulate”. Consequently, “consumers should be able to trust that legal professionals have the necessary skills, knowledge and attributes to provide good quality legal services and that they are kept up to date and relevant over time”.
It is impossible to argue against the good intentions here. But, regrettably, the mission is impossible; both the consequential cost and burden of it to the regulated community (and ultimately to consumers) are disproportionate; the evidence does not support it; and, for me, it is therefore an unwelcome example of inappropriate regulation.
I was privileged earlier this month to be invited to deliver the keynote address at the 2013 Futures Conference organised by the College of Law Practice Management and held at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. My theme was the future of law. The speech is available as a video (starting about 15 minutes in and with microphone on at around 16:30 minutes!). However, I also thought it would be worth writing it up as a paper (which is not a direct transcript). It’s available here.
In summary, the paper addresses three themes: (1) What is Law for? (2) What are lawyers for? (3) The Future. The first two questions to my mind provide necessary answers to the fundamental question, What next for Law? For each theme, I suggest a proposition. The substance of the argument is that both law and lawyers have lost sight of their true purpose and that reconnecting with both is essential to enabling a meaningful and worthwhile future for law.
This morning’s seminar on reforming legal education and training, hosted by Westminster Legal Policy Forum, provided a timely opportunity to reflect on the progress so far of the Legal Education & Training Review (LETR).
The lead for the LETR, Professor Julian Webb, rightly reminded us that the function of the Review is to address the question of how best to regulate legal education and training – specifically, the scope, reach and proportionality of that regulation. He said that, so far, responses to the LETR discussion papers had reflected vested interests, and had demonstrated limited consensus and offered little in the way of alternative vision.