The UK legal services market is the second largest in the world, and the sector is a net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade, with net exports of £4.29 billion in 2017.
Thanks to the way it works with businesses and individuals across the breadth of society, the legal services sector has a central part to play in making levelling up a reality.
In partnership with government, we can go even further yet.
Our submission sets out a package of targeted investment that will allow the government to leverage the unique strengths of the legal services sector in delivering its priorities.
In summary, we recommend that the government:
- at minimum, commit to maintaining current levels of spending on the justice system in real terms for the duration of this spending round
- allocate sufficient funding to the Ministry of Justice for a programme of capital renewal of the courts estate in England and Wales
- commit to funding the implementation of the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid’s recommendations in full
- fund a yearly inflationary uplift in civil legal aid fees for the duration of the spending round
- fund the reinstatement of legal aid for early advice from a lawyer in housing, housing benefit and family law
- create a grant scheme to support small and medium-sized law firms with the costs of adopting productivity boosting lawtech, modelled on Singapore’s Tech-celerate for Law scheme
- continue to invest in improving digital connectivity in parts of England and Wales where coverage is currently limited
- make publicly funded loans available for Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) candidates
- work with the Institute for Apprenticeships on changes to the apprenticeship levy to give law firms the flexibility to spend apprenticeship levy money on:
- lawtech seats and training in lawtech skills
- training in secondary specialisations which will enable people to re-train in other practice areas
- training contracts and placements to maintain the jobs pipeline for students about to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the SQE
- extend the repayment period for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) from six years to eight
- defer the transitional year for the income tax basis period reform by at least two years; allow firms to spread excess profits over a period of 10 years rather than five; and consider additional administrative simplifications to ease the burdens on firms
- ensure that the business rates review is inclusive and supportive of high street law firms