Society warns LSB against diversity surveys

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The Law Society has joined a wave of criticism of the Legal Services Board (LSB) by repeating its opposition to the publication of the results of mandatory diversity surveys of firms.

In its response to the LSB’s draft business plan for 2013-14, the Society accuses the board of ‘usurping the role of the approved regulators’ and adding to the regulatory burden through its costs to the profession.

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The business plan has also come under fire from the Bar Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which said ‘it is not clear that the organisation as a whole has sufficient knowledge or experience of the regulation of professions and conduct of business regulation’.

In its comments, published yesterday, the Society calls for a ‘frank dialogue’ between the LSB, regulators and the profession and has said that current work to make the LSB a licensing authority should ‘be dropped’.

It also reminds the LSB that its role is not to drive regulatory change, but to ensure that the regulators are doing their job of ‘protecting consumers and monitoring the integrity of the profession’.

While supporting the LSB’s objectives on equality and diversity, the Society says that imposing a ‘regulatory obligation’ on firms to conduct surveys about the diversity of their workforce and then publish the results will deter employees in smaller firms from providing the information.

It says that the SRA is already carrying out important work on equality and diversity ‘and it is not clear to us that further work is needed by the LSB now’.

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