City lawyers would be ‘horrified’ by the prospect of another review of legal education and training, the City of London Law Society’s chief executive has said.
In a strongly worded three-page letter, written in response to the Legal Services Board’s strategic three-year plan, David Hobart (pictured) said there was no appetite for such a measure.
The LSB published its business plan in December and included a pledge to consider a thematic review of education and training in the next two years.
It is less than two years since the publication of the legal education and training review (LETR) jointly conducted by regulators, and Hobart said its findings must be given time to become established.
‘We have not yet reached the apex of the workload prompted by the interminable LETR, and I do not expect any newly qualified entrants to appear before 2021 at the earliest,' he stated. ‘Thereafter we need some training stability to see how the new system works. Please let this exhausted dog sleep for a few years.’
The chief executive also roundly criticised regulators for failing to assess the risks posed by legal activities.
Hobart said while the lack of research into the reserved sector was difficult to understand, the neglect of the non-reserved sector was even less explicable.
The former Bar Council chief executive explained that non-reserved activities make up around 85% of total legal services by volume, but there remains no obligation to regulate them. Instead, the regulatory burden is increasingly piled onto solicitors.
‘It remains an extraordinary paradox that 85% of legal services can be conducted in a wholly unregulated fashion, but only if the services are provided by people in whom the clients can have no legal regulatory confidence,’ Hobart said.
‘Absurdly, the greater an individual’s legal qualification to deliver legal services, the greater is his need for formal legal regulatory supervision.’
Hobart said that his member firms, which employ 17,000 lawyers, pay around £25m every year to meet regulatory costs, representing over 25% of the total regulatory costs of the legal sector. However, he noted that the majority of the work carried out by City firms is unreserved activity that would require no regulation.
‘Arguably, the majority of the City firms’ legal regulatory costs are an unwarranted overhead, that bears no evidenced relationship to the risks posed by the unreserved activities.’