LSB proposes to remove diversity ‘model questionnaire’

A consultation paper published today states that some regulators have ‘now moved past’ the 2011 guidance, ‘while others have started collecting the data but have not used the information gathered to begin to inform policy decisions’.

Regulators would be required to: build a ‘clear and thorough’ understanding of the diversity profile of their respective regulated communities; use data, evidence and intelligence to inform regulatory arrangements and operational processes; collaborate with others; and ‘account to’ their respective stakeholders for its plans and achievements to encourage diversity.

The board proposes to remove a ‘model questionnaire’ from the original guidance. At present, regulators are required to notify the LSB of proposed changes to their data collection methods if it departs from the current guidance.

‘We consider that regulators should now be able to maintain and develop their own, independent data collection methods based on their own experiences,’ the consultation paper states.

In May the Solicitors Regulation Authority announced that its annual diversity survey would take place every two years after acknowledging the burden placed on firms by its requirement to collect diversity data.

Middlesex Law Society Continuing Competence 2017

ACL Logo

in association with


To become a member of  Middlesex Law Society MLS Membership Form

MLS Continuing Competence Program 2017 Education Committee Letter



A successful workshop was held at Middlesex University on Thursday 20th October 2016. Amy Bell was the main speaker supported by Michael Garson, our Council Member and The Law Society Treasurer. The Middlesex Law Society will be holding additional events in 2017 further details please contact


LSB unhappy that IBA says ‘creeping government control’

The Legal Services Board has hit back at the International Bar Association for citing it as an example of creeping government control of the legal profession. 

International Bar Association task force said the LSB, set up under the Legal Services Act, was an example of ‘external involvement in the regulatory scheme’.  ‘Where there is some executive control over the regulatory process the risk of infringements on lawyers’ professional independence is greater.’

The LSB has called for the statement to be removed from the report.

LSB’s chief executive, Neil Buckley says the references to the board are ‘inaccurate’, specifically the implication that it is controlled by the government. 

Buckley states: ‘No decision made by the LSB and its executive has ever been at the “control”, behest of or subject to any improper influence whatsoever by the government.’

BSB demands barristers “speak fluent english”

The Bar Standards Board list of “threshold standard competences” 36-page document sets out “the minimum level or standard to which the competences should be performed on day one of practice”.

Barristers, says the “professional statement” document, “will have an effective command of the language and be able to use it appropriately, accurately and fluently so as to handle complex and detailed argumentation”. 

Barristers should “use correct and appropriate vocabulary, English grammar, spelling and punctuation in all communications”. And the board requires that barristers must “speak fluent English”.

Dixon says AI not taken over yet!

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said that the market is ‘clearly embracing AI in its work’ with 22 major firms publicly acknowledging its use. ‘These are mostly large commercial firms but we believe this will soon spread,’ she said.

As for the question of whether AI would make whole swathes of the profession redundant, Dixon noted that academic studies are contradictory. ‘The picture is more complicated than sometimes painted in the media. The profession will re-invent itself as it has so often in the past,’ she said.

MORI pole by TLS about SRA changes showed “considerable disquiet”.

The survey which was conducted by Ipsos MORI, showed “considerable disquiet among those members of the public”.

Catherine Dixon, the society’s chief executive, said: “Changes to the rules governing solicitors are liable to be met with widespread opposition among the public. We urge the SRA to think again as their proposals will undermine public confidence in the solicitor profession and cause confusion for clients.”

A spokesman for the regulator said that the SRA would “be interested to see the detail of this survey. What the headline figures show is that the public is unaware that there is already a large alternative legal market not subject to regulation over and above normal consumer law. That market is providing consumers with a choice of services at what might be, for some people, an affordable cost.

“Our proposals are designed to enhance the quality of services that people can access in that market, by allowing solicitors to work outside law firms. We are already very clear that solicitors and firms must make sure their clients are aware of what protections they have should things go wrong and that requirement will continue.”

CQS time for approval falls from 90 to 70 days

Waiting for your Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) Accreditation? Further to a Today’s Conveyancer Freedom of Information (FOI) Request to the Law Society, we can report that, due to numerous improvements made by the body to the CQS scheme over the last few months, the total average time for processing both new and re-accreditation applications has continued to fall.

The preceding months have seen a processing time start to finish go from just over 90 days, to just over 70 days within the last few weeks of our FOI request being made.

Where applications have been delayed, the main reason for the nature of delay has been the submission of incomplete applications.

In the period from 3rd August 2015 to 3rd August 2016, 128 firms successfully received initial CQS accreditation, this was out of a 181 applications made within the same period.

Law Society responds to LSB call for regulatory reform with Brexit

Robert Bourns, president of the Law Society called on Brexit as a reason not to rock the regulation boat. He said: “During a period of unprecedented change for Britain following the vote to leave the European Union we must maintain confidence in all our markets and in particular the legal market. Uncertainty should be reduced, not increased.”

Bourns said “embarking on regulatory change in this climate, especially when there is broad recognition that the current regulatory framework is working, is misconceived.”

SRA wants reform to proceed “at pace”

Paul Philip, chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority urged the need to reform “at pace”, saying regulation had to be in the public interest. “Around two thirds of the public think that professional legal services are simply too expensive, and small businesses agree.

“And fewer than one in ten people experiencing legal problems instruct a solicitor or barrister for their legal needs. This can’t really be acceptable. Legal services are simply unaffordable for the vast majority of the public and the small businesses that form the backbone of our economy. And the public purse does not have the resources to close that price gap.”

This is not the time to slow down regulatory reforms that will “support a healthy, legal market, inject more competition and innovation, provide opportunities for solicitors and improve access to law”.

LSB wants to scrap SRA and itself!

Legal Services Board Chairman, Sir Michael Pitt, said:

“The paper we are publishing today sets out the LSB’s vision for a future regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales.

We believe that further legislative reform would help address current challenges and make the step change needed to improve outcomes for consumers, citizens and practitioners.

There is a need to tackle the tensions inherent in the existing framework. A new legal framework will help secure the important public interest outcomes that the legal sector delivers, such as maintaining the rule of law and ensuring access to justice. It will also strengthen the contribution the legal sector makes to the reputation of the UK as a great place to do business

Any new legislative framework should take a risk-based approach to regulation and focus on the activities undertaken by providers. It must also be fully independent of the professions and Government.

The existing arrangements are confusing and complex. We believe that a single regulator, covering the whole legal services sector and accountable to Parliament, would be best placed to deliver improvement, deregulate, save cost and act strategically.

I look forward to discussing these proposals with the Government and interested parties.”