Regulators should be able to develop their own methods for collecting diversity data, the Legal Services Board has said, proposing to replace the ‘prescriptive’ approach initially adopted.
The oversight regulator wants to replace its 2011 guidance, which was narrowly focused on data collection, with what it calls an outcomes-focused approach.
A consultation paper published today states that some regulators have ‘now moved past’ the 2011 guidance, ‘while others have started collecting the data but have not used the information gathered to begin to inform policy decisions’.
Regulators would be required to: build a ‘clear and thorough’ understanding of the diversity profile of their respective regulated communities; use data, evidence and intelligence to inform regulatory arrangements and operational processes; collaborate with others; and ‘account to’ their respective stakeholders for its plans and achievements to encourage diversity.
The board proposes to remove a ‘model questionnaire’ from the original guidance. At present, regulators are required to notify the LSB of proposed changes to their data collection methods if it departs from the current guidance.
‘We consider that regulators should now be able to maintain and develop their own, independent data collection methods based on their own experiences,’ the consultation paper states.
In May the Solicitors Regulation Authority announced that its annual diversity survey would take place every two years after acknowledging the burden placed on firms by its requirement to collect diversity data.
Regulators will be expected to have ‘appropriate activities’ in place to encourage a diverse profession that deliver the four outcomes by August next year.
The board also proposes formally assessing work carried out by regulators.
Describing the board as a ‘passionate advocate’ for a diverse legal profession, LSB chief executive Neil Buckley said the proposed revisions are focused on ‘consolidating and building’ on the many ‘excellent initiatives, in the legal sector and further afield, that are delivering change’.
Buckley added: ‘We want regulators to continue to develop their work in this area and as such as have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to also develop and describe what regulators may do to demonstrate they are encouraging a diverse profession.’
The consultation closes on 2 December.