The legal workforce needs to reflect the communities that it serves more closely. The LSB has conducted research that has identified significant challenges facing diversity in the workforce. Based on those findings, we expect the regulators to evaluate their diversity initiatives, assess their effectiveness and share learning points.
In February 2017, we issued guidance to the regulators giving them more flexibility in how they encourage diversity in the workforce. This updates the earlier guidance (issued to the regulators in July 2011) that introduced new transparency duties at firm and chambers level to monitor and publish diversity statistics. The 2011 diversity guidance focused narrowly on data collection. This was to create the evidence base required to carry out assessments on where the issues were and measure the impact of initiatives to address these over time.
An LSB report in 2016 found that since 2011 the extent to which the regulators have used the information collected differed greatly, varying from merely applying the guidance and collecting data in its simplest form to more comprehensive implementation of policies and processes based on the data collected. A review of the 2011 guidance found it to be too prescriptive, and limited the regulators in their work to develop new and targeted initiatives based on the information gathered.
The new LSB guidance has a renewed focus on outcomes and encourages regulators to take their work beyond data collection. There are four diversity outcomes which require the regulators to (i) continue to gather data to ensure a clear understanding of the diversity profile of their regulated communities; (ii) use of data to inform development of its regulatory activities; (iii) collaborate with others to encourage a diverse workforce; (iv) and account to their stakeholders for its achievement and plans to encourage a diverse workforce.
In August 2017 we sought an update from the regulators on the work being undertaken and planned, at that point: Update on legal services regulators progress against revised diversity outcomes (2017). We commenced a formal assessment of the regulators’ progress against the four outcomes in August 2018. In January 2019, we published a summary report which set out the findings of our formal assessment of each of the regulators’ progress: Diversity: Summary report on the legal services regulators’ progress against diversity outcomes (January 2019).The report also sets out our expectations for each of the regulators in 2019, and we will be closely monitoring future developments and the impact of their regulatory activities. As a demonstration of the LSB’s own commitment to encouraging a diverse workforce in the sector, we have also published our self-assessment against the four outcomes in the report.
Diversity data on each of the legal professions can be found on the relevant pages of the regulators websites.
LSB reports on regulators’ progress against 2011 guidance:
- Diversity and the legal services regulators May 2016
- Diversity data collection and transparency March 2015
- Diversity data collection and transparency September 2013
Further reports are available on LSB’s research pages
For more information contact the Regulatory Policy Manager Sally Al-Saleem