Understanding the Economic Rationale for Legal Services Regulation: The Importance of Interdisciplinary Dialogue
Understanding the Economic Rationale for Legal Services Regulation - A Collection of Essays 11, March 2011
12 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2011
This short essay offers the author’s reflections on a paper commissioned by the U.K. Legal Services Board. The paper is Christopher Decker & George Yarrow, Understanding the Economic Rationale for Legal Services Regulation (Oct. 31, 2010); this author’s commentary is entitled Understanding the Economic Rationale for Legal Services Regulation: The Importance of Interdisciplinary Dialogue.
The 2007 UK Legal Services Act radically changed the regulation of the legal professions in England and Wales. The Legal Services Board is the entity that is now vested with oversight authority for lawyer regulation. It monitors the work of the so-called “front-line regulators” including the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board.
In the past few years, the Legal Services Board has sought input on a wide range of issues. It has issued consultations on many issues and has commissioned a number of studies. Since the Legal Services Board is anticipating the launch of alternative business structures (ABS) in the UK, it has been particularly interested in exploring issues related to the nature of regulation. The Decker-Yarrow Report is one of the studies it has commissioned to help it better understand regulatory issues.
This author’s short essay (which was constrained by space limitations) identifies three aspects of the Decker-Yarrow paper she found admirable and three points on which she wished it had been more fully developed. the latter three points included: 1) a desire for more consistency in reminding the reader that legitimacy and quality concerns may require one to look beyond the impact of regulation on a specific client; 2) a suggestion that the paper would have been stronger if it had developed in greater detail the 'assessment framework' idea it introduced; and 3) an observation that the paper’s treatment of the concept of 'self-regulation' failed to unpack the concept adequately because it implicitly used a definition of self-regulation that is similar to the UK’s prior model of self-regulation by a 'representational' body.
Keywords: lawyer regulation, Legal Services Board, UK Legal Services Act, SRA, ABS
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