Legal Services Board new strategy development - Law Society response

The Legal Services Board (LSB) is developing a three-year strategy for the legal services sector for 2021–2024.

As part of the process it is engaging with stakeholders seeking views in response to questions outlined below about the legal services landscape.

The LSB strategy questions:

  • What excites you about the legal services landscape over the next, say, three years or so?
  • What worries you about the next three years? What are the big challenges still to be overcome? Who should be taking the lead on those challenges?
  • If you could change three things in the next three years what would they be?
  • What are you doing about these issues?
  • How can we help and where can we work together?

If you would like to contribute, share your views or any evidence get in touch directly with the LSB by emailing strategy@legalservicesboard.org.uk.

Our view

The Law Society welcomes the opportunity to engage with the LSB in the development of its strategy and submitted a paper suggesting our priority areas for the legal sector over the coming three years.

The legal sector provides a substantial contribution to the UK economy, adding nearly £60bn of UK’s gross value and £4.29bn to the balance of trade, employing over 550,000 people (directly and indirectly) across the country.

In addition to the direct benefit to the economy, the sector and the profession has a wider social value in helping people to access justice and supporting the rule of law. An overwhelming number of clients (90%) are satisfied with solicitors and the service they provide.

However, the legal sector and the profession are facing unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the economy and the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has only increased long term economic uncertainty.

Criminal and civil justice supported by legal aid is at a breaking point. Legal technology and innovation are accelerating at a great speed bringing both opportunities and threats. The combined long-term effect of these on the profession, clients and wider public confidence is difficult to gauge.

The LSB’s proposed strategy for the whole sector presents a real opportunity to map out a road to recovery and the LSB should concentrate on how its work can support the sector at this challenging time rather than contemplating more regulatory changes.

The Law Society is keen to work closely with the LSB to address the most pressing issues. Given the current crisis and its impact on society, the economy and the rule of law, we recommend the strategy has a strong focus on:

  • protecting and promoting the public interest
  • upholding the rule of law and maintaining a stable legal regime, in the interests of the wider public good and the economy as a whole
  • improving access to justice
  • promoting diversity within the sector
  • promoting innovation in the legal sector
  • supporting sector recovery through proportionate, targeted and evidence-based regulation

Next steps

The LSB will be publishing a State of the Legal Sector report this autumn with a public consultation launched on both a draft strategy and LSB business plan for 2021-22 at the end of 2020.