Just as solicitors are getting to grips with the problems of practising during lockdown and paying for the SRA’s latest failed litigation, come plans from the LSB for a new strategy for the legal services sector and yet another reshaping of legal services “to better meet the needs of society”. The strategy, which will require an increased budget for the LSB (inevitably to come from the pockets of the professions) follows the publication of the LSB’s State of Legal Services 2020 report last month. This reflected on ten years of independent regulation and concluded although there have been achievements over the last decade, there remain significant levels of unmet legal need.
The proposed strategy claims that the significant challenges facing the sector can only be tackled by people and organisations working together in pursuit of a common agenda. It sets a ten-year strategic direction and suggests nine priority areas of focus in 2021-24. Those areas include:
- Lowering unmet legal need across large parts of society.
- Dismantling barriers to a diverse and inclusive profession at all levels
- Closing gaps in consumer protection.
- Supporting responsible use of technology that commands public trust.
All well and good, apart from the fact that to meet the challenges identified will require yet more resources for regulatory activity involving an increase of £175k (4.4%) on the 2020/21 budget of £3.923m.
The LSB’s strategy and business plan have been developed following an extensive programme of stakeholder engagement and in response to views obtained from ordinary members of the public. New areas of work in the business plan include:
- Understanding the size and scale of the unregulated market.
- Promoting a more strategic approach to meeting the needs of citizens in vulnerable circumstances.
- Considering how to better enable small businesses to access legal support.
The consultation on the new strategy closes on 5 February 2021. Further information can be found:
- Consultation document [PDF]
- Draft Strategy for the Legal Services Sector [PDF]
- Draft Business Plan 2021-22 [PDF]