UK Legal Services Board to continue focus on equality, diversity and inclusion
Law Society publishes response to LSB’s proposed business plan 2023/24
The UK Legal Services Board (LSB) announced on 3 February that its new business plan for 2023/24 will continue to focus on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the legal services profession.
The LSB’s proposed key activities relating to EDI in 2023/24 include: the need to better understand current regulatory interventions on EDI, including addressing counter-inclusive practices; a plan to consult on a statement of policy which sets clear expectations on regulators’ progress; and plans to convene roundtables with key stakeholders on priority themes relating to EDI.
The consultation on the LSB’s proposed new business plan, which closed on 3 February, included plans to advance the existing EDI work, so that the LSB better understands existing regulatory interventions, including how to address counter-inclusive practices.
The LSB’s proposed new strategy, business plan and budget for 2023/24 includes plans to continue working on: the disciplinary and enforcement processes; advancing EDI within the profession; the rule of law and professional ethics; technology; financial protections; guidance on education and training; handling first-tier complaints; and discharging statutory functions. The LSB also proposed the introduction of new workstreams, including: market surveillance and horizon scanning; and consumer vulnerability.
President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Lubna Shuja, said, “We note that the LSB’s continued focus on EDI aligns with the Law Society’s priorities. We would, however, like to see a stronger focus on the LSB’s core statutory functions under the Legal Services Act 2007. This should include publishing robust evidence of effective regulatory performance by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) – and holding them to account for outcomes and costs.”
The Law Society’s response to the LSB’s consultation explains that the society supports a number of the LBS’s proposed new workstreams, in particular policy areas that align with the Law Society’s own strategic priorities, including in relation to technology and innovation, and the rule of law and professional ethics. However, the Law Society states that it would like the LSB to place greater emphasis on its statutory functions, which includes monitoring regulators’ performance.
“We welcome the LSB’s focus on understanding and addressing the problem of over-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors in the disciplinary process,” adds Shuja. “We call on the oversight regulator to invest in understanding the factors behind this imbalance and address it.”