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).
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 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.
My interim report for the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in England & Wales is published today (available here). This post is extracted from it.
While the reforms of the Legal Services Act 2007 have been mainly beneficial overall, that legislation might best be characterised as an incomplete step towards restructuring legal services regulation.
For reasons that are understandable, it did not fully follow through on some key elements of the regulatory structure. These include: review and reform of the reserved legal activities (those few activities that must be provided by lawyers); the known regulatory gap (as a consequence of which the non-reserved activities of lawyers are regulated, but those of non-lawyers can legally be provided but cannot be regulated – to the potential detriment of consumers); and the separation of regulation from professional representative interests.
This lack of follow-through has led to increasing challenges to the integrity of the regulatory framework as the legal sector has evolved and developed since 2007.