The regulation of lawyers isn’t a new topic. But it is now harder than ever to get away from. Most lawyers are comfortable with the concepts of professional training, professional conduct and ethics and disciplinary sanctions have been around for centuries. However, with the growth of ideas about competition and consumer power, the picture has become much more complex.
The debate is not just about how lawyers maintain expertise and professionalism: it’s about access to legal advice and the restrictive practices that that are said to prevent this. The picture is bewildering to lawyers who simply want to get on with what they are good at.
On this site, I look at the current major issues in the debate about the regulation of lawyers: the SRA’s “Training for Tomorrow” programme; the Government and Competition and Market Authority’s reviews of the legal profession; advocacy and other key developments. How will they affect individuals and firms? What should you be thinking about to cope in the future? I aim to stimulate debate and thought. Feel free to join in.
Those new to the topic can find brief description of the system here.
I have been working on legal professional issues since 1989 when, in what was then the Lord Chancellor’s Department, I worked on Lord Mackay’s reforms to the legal profession. Following that, I worked for fourteen years at the Bar Council where I ran the Council’s regulatory work and was the expert on barristers’ professional conduct. I led the Council’s work on improving its complaints system, on enabling barristers to accept work direct from lay clients and on Sir David Clementi’s review of regulation of the legal profession. I was the first Director of the Bar Standards Board.
I left the Bar Council in 2008 to become Director of Legal Policy at the Law Society. There I worked on the dynamic between the Society and the SRA and on all the major issues that have affected lawyers in recent years: advocacy, professional indemnity insurance, outcomes focussed regulation, education and training reforms, as well as legal aid and the Jackson reforms.
I left the Law Society in 2015. From May 2016, I have been Director of Scrutiny and Quality at the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, which enables me to use a lot of my regulatory knowledge in the medical field.
I’m still retaining an interest in the legal profession and will be continuing to write on the subject. I have written the chapter on the Bar in Cordery on Legal Services (LexisNexis) and together with articles for the Solicitors Journal and www.legalfutures.co.uk. I’m aiming to keep that up and hope this site will remain up to date and contributing to the on-going debates.