LSB draft strategy and business plan 2021-22 – Junior Lawyers Division response

The proposals

The Legal Services Board (LSB) consulted on its draft strategy for legal services regulation and business plan 2021-2022.

The LSB proposed three strategic themes for the legal profession over the next 10 years:

  • better services – including fostering innovation and the use of technology
  • fairer outcomes – including dismantling barriers to diversity and inclusion within the profession
  • stronger confidence – including strong professional ethics

The JLD view

We’re concerned that the LSB’s strategy is too broad. Our view is that the LSB needs to focus on stability and tackling the challenges brought by COVID-19, Brexit and government cuts, instead of radical reform of legal services and regulation.

The challenges the legal profession is likely to face over the next 10 years, such as the impact of the above issues alongside climate change and increased globalisation, should be considered in more depth by the LSB.

Better services

We question the LSB’s suggestion that there may be potential to develop a suite of simple legal products to improve consumer engagement.

Every client has different needs and requirements, meaning it’s not always practicable or efficient to encourage the use of simple legal products.

The LSB states that a joined-up approach to lawtech regulation capabilities is needed to address ethical concerns and deliver sufficient consumer protection.

We believe this is difficult to achieve in practice and would like the LSB to elaborate on how they intended to achieve this.

We’re wary of the risk that the LSB strays too far into a technological landscape it does not have the experience or capacity to effectively navigate.

Fairer outcomes

One of the focus points from the consultation is a properly funded legal aid system. We think this is extremely important.

Should action not be taken to encourage more junior solicitors into areas funded by legal aid, there will not be enough solicitors to provide advice to all who need it.

The LSB states that the legal sector needs effective programmes to achieve a diverse and inclusive profession. To do this, it says it needs to identify the barriers to entry and progression, and better understand the causes of attrition that face specific groups.

We agree with this and would like to assist in any way we can to help identify the barriers for those groups that fall within the JLD’s membership.

Stronger confidence

The LSB believes that public confidence would be enhanced if consumers could complain to the Legal Ombudsman about any provider in the market.

We consider this would be beneficial for clients in the legal sector.

The LSB also proposes that all regulatory bodies can tackle common challenges in a more joined-up way and mask the complexity of the institutional landscape.

We reiterate that this might be difficult for the LSB to achieve in practice and would like the LSB to elaborate on how it intends to encourage such an approach.

Next steps

The consultation closed on 5 February 2021.

The LSB will consider responses to the consultation from all stakeholders before deciding on how to proceed.

Read the consultation on the LSB website

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