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Hannah Gannagé-Stewart

Deputy Editor, Solicitors Journal

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This will involve being much more open about what we think the issues are, exposing gaps and weaknesses, and doing so much earlier in the policymaking process

LSB seeks greater sector engagement

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LSB seeks greater sector engagement

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Legal Service Board (LSB) chair Helen Phillips has pledged that the oversight body will take a closer interest in monitoring policymaking by legal regulators over the coming year. Entering the third and final year of its current corporate strategy, the LSB has published a draft business plan for 2020-21, along with a consultation document for the industry to feed back through.

The consultation is open until 14 February. The business plan points toward a more hands-on approach by the LSB over the coming year, with communication and industry-engagement top of its list of priorities. Describing it as a “step-change” in its style of engagement in a letter accompanying the consultation, Phillips said: “This will involve being much more open about what we think the issues are in legal services regulation, exposing gaps and weaknesses, and doing so much earlier in the policymaking process.” Phillips hinted that LSB board meetings will be opened up to the public, enabling greater scrutiny of regulatory processes and earlier consultation on decisions. The LSB will continue to place pressure on regulators to push for greater price transparency over the coming year, as well as encouraging more work in fulfilling an unmet legal need in across the UK.

The LSB’s increased focus on engagement and transparency follows a year where it came under fire for appearing to lack vigour in its assessment of criticism of the proposed Solicitors Qualifying Exam. Closing her letter, Phillips pointed to further work on the future of education and training. “The next business plan year is likely to see a major application from the Solicitors Regulation Authority for the next phase of its proposals for significant reform of pre-qualification education for solicitors. As well as the significance of this issue in its own right, it is a signal that the time has come to start to focus on education and training across legal services more widely,” she said.

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