The Legal Services Board’s (LSB) wide-ranging examination of regulatory approaches to technology has published a new perspective in the debate on whether the current regime can respond to the growing use of disruptive technology in law.
LawTech is revolutionising legal services and there are a range of views on whether the Legal Services Act can support innovation while protecting consumers.
In the third instalment of the LSB’s ‘Talking Tech’ podcast series, Professor Noel Semple, Associate Professor of Law at University of Windsor Ontario, considers whether there is a need for legislative reform. The episode considers issues explored in his paper, ‘Tending the Flame: Technological Innovation and the Legal Services Act Regime’.
Semple’s view is that the current regulatory framework is adequately prepared, at least for the time being, to respond to the increasing use of technology in legal services.
The LSB is considering a range of opinions and evidence as part of its ongoing project: Developing approaches to regulation for the use of technology in legal services. The LSB will draw on these to inform its approach and assist the frontline regulators to respond effectively to LawTech.
Dr Helen Phillips, Chair of the Legal Services Board, said:
‘Professor Semple has put forward a series of carefully considered perspectives that will make for genuine food for thought as we prepare our final report on the project.
‘This is an important discussion for the legal services sector and I hope everyone with an interest in LawTech will listen to the podcast series.’
To listen to the podcast, read the research papers and get more information on the LSB’s technology project, visit – https://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/our-work/current-work/technology-and-regulation.
Notes for editors:
- Noel Semple is Associate Professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. He studies access to justice. His work asks how the law and legal institutions work in real life, and it aspires to improve their ability to do so. Empirical research (both quantitative and qualitative) and policy analysis are key tools in his scholarship. He draws upon and seeks to contribute to the law and society and empirical legal studies traditions. He teaches and writes in the fields of civil dispute resolution, legal ethics and professionalism, and family law. Noel’s work has appeared in the International Journal of the Legal Profession, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, and the Family Court Review, among other journals. He has taught Legal Process at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Children and the Law at the University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law.
- The LSB published its vision for reform of the legislative framework for regulating legal services in 2016. The case for legislative reform was not based on technological change but was based on the fact that the current framework is not properly risk-based. It increases the costs unnecessarily for some lower-risk legal activities while also allowing some high-risk activities to fall beyond the reach of regulation. In addition, the current framework does not result in regulators that are fully independent of the professions they regulate.
- The Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
- The LSB oversees ten approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is an approved regulator for probate activities only but does not currently authorise anyone to offer this service.
- As of 1 April 2018, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 146,600 solicitors, 16,600 barristers, 7,600 chartered legal executives and 6,000 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing (figures rounded to the closest hundred). The UK legal sector turnover was £33 billion per annum (2017) which is up 19% in cash terms since 2012.