Friday, November 16, 2012

Evaluating Change in the Legal Services Market


(Do they look very different from the standard pictures of law firm partners?)

The Legal Services Board has published two new and related papers, which everyone interested in legal services should read.

The first is "Market Impacts of the Legal Services Act 2007--Baseline Report 2012". It looks at the entire market from the perspectives of the profession, the consumer, the public, the market, and the investor. It's comprehensive and is intended to provide a baseline from which future evaluations can be made.

It will be soon reviewed by Professor Susan Fortney of Hofstra Law School in New York on jotwell. I think it will be interesting for readers to get an outsider's view of the English legal market.

The second paper is "Evaluation: How Can We Measure Access to Justice for Individual Consumers? A Discussion Paper". The LSB admits this is a complex and complicated area. Its initial definitions in this paper are
     Access to justice is a complex concept to define, with a range of different views on what it means. This increases the challenge of benchmarking levels of access to justice, since we must first define what it is we are measuring if we are to understand how it changes over time, and what actions the ARs and the LSB can take to address any access to justice issues.
     We take as our starting point that access to justice is a positive thing for society as a whole.  A range of research discusses the benefits of access to justice on commercial activity, individual‘s health, and as a check on governmental power. The World Bank statement on legal and judicial reform includes an assertion that ―improving, facilitating and expanding individual and collective access to law and justice supports economic and social development. Legal reforms give the poor the opportunity to assert their individual and property rights; improved access to justice empowers the poor to enforce those rights.
     In any event, improving access to justice is a regulatory objective of the LSA.  However since the LSA does not define it, the question of what is meant by the term access to justice remains.
The LSB is looking for feedback and Robert Cross is the person to contact at robert.cross@legalservicesboard.org.uk.

Finally, if you go to the Legal Services Board website and click through to research you will see the new research web pages, which are rather good.



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