LSB policy objective: Regulators have appropriate frameworks for continuing assurance of professional competence throughout the careers of the people they regulate
Why have we committed to this policy objective?
This project goes to the heart of the LSB vision of legal services that everyone can access and trust. Consumers should be able to trust that legal professionals have the necessary skills, knowledge and attributes to provide good quality legal services and that they are kept up to date and relevant over time.
Recent reforms to education and training have largely focused on assuring day one competence but regulators should also ensure that legal professionals remain competent throughout their careers. While consumers can usually observe ‘service quality’ e.g. promptness, courtesy, administrative efficiency, often they are not able to assess the technical quality of work. This means they rely on there being checks in place to provide quality assurance.
Unlike other professional service sectors e.g. healthcare and teaching, there is no regular, formal assessment of legal professionals during their careers beyond requirements for continuing professional development. The Board has determined that we should consider whether this status quo is sustainable and if the current approach is effective in protecting consumers’ and the public interest.
How will we do this?
- we have an open mind on whether a different approach to providing assurance of competence is needed in the regulated legal services market.
- we will be guided by the evidence we collect and our aim is to engage widely with a broad range of stakeholders in gathering evidence.
- we have begun this work with a review of the information we hold at the LSB, any published evidence from regulatory bodies and approved regulators, as well as evidence from other sectors where ongoing competence assurance practices have already been adopted. We have also started looking at learnings from legal academia.
- in January 2020 we launched a four-month call for evidence so that we can capture relevant information to help us understand current approaches to assuring competence and gain clarity on whether there are any gaps in the system or areas of concern that need to be addressed.
- if we find that there are areas where we need further evidence then we will consider commissioning primary research to help fill gaps in the evidence base.
- we will publish the conclusions from our analysis of the evidence during 2020-21 and our proposals for further action, if needed.
Engage with us
Throughout this project, we expect to engage widely with a range of stakeholders, including through the call for evidence. We will look to hear from and be informed by as many views as possible. Below we provide notes from recent ongoing competence roundtable events:
- legal sector professionals (Newcastle, October 2019)
- regulatory bodies and approved regulators (London, January 2020). The presentation from the event is also available
If you would like to speak to us about this project at any time, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the project team.