LSCP proposes legal quality audits
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has called upon legal regulators to improve the quality control of, and information provided about, the performance of their regulated lawyers.
A study of consumer perspectives on quality in legal services has revealed that consumers assume all lawyers are technically competent and are subject to more regulatory controls than is the case with the result that many people erroneously consider that all legal services are of proven standard.
Despite a proliferation of quality badges, consumers do not use or want quality marks in legal services. However, the Panel found that quality schemes can be useful when their use by bulk purchasers and intermediaries drives up standards for all.
The Consumer Panel has made a number of specific recommendations including:
- Strengthening continuing professional development requirements
- Opening a debate around more far-reaching ways of ensuring competence, such as licensing by activity and periodic reaccreditation
- Publishing complaints data
- Reviewing the robustness of existing quality marks, and
- Helping consumers to distinguish between regulated and unregulated lawyers
Dr Dianne Hayter, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said:
?Consumers use lawyers at critical points in their lives, so poor quality legal advice can have grave consequences. However, consumers lack the expertise to judge professional competence, so they must put their trust in regulators to ensure they receive good advice.
?Regulators need to shift from reacting when things go wrong to actively ensuring that professionals are competent at all stages of their careers. Strengthening CPD requirements is a necessary first step, but the time is nowright to consider more far-reaching options, including licensing by activity and periodic reaccreditation.?