Legal sector needs a single regulator and more control over who can call themselves a lawyer, warns Law Society chief executive

Hayley Kirton
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If he looks like a lawyer and calls himself a lawyer, it doesn't necessarily mean he is a lawyer (Source: Getty)

The boss of the Law Society has today called for there to be a single regulator for the legal profession and more control over who can call themselves a lawyer.

Writing in industry publication The Law Society Gazette, Catherine Dixon, chief executive of the Law Society, urged government not to pull legal regulators and their professional bodies apart just for deregulation's sake, as many aspects relating to professional standards, education and training were in the interest of the regulator.

Following reforms under the Legal Services Act 2007, there are now 11 different regulators in the legal sector and the Legal Services Board, which Dixon believes is "complex and costly and needs reform and consolidation".

"A single legal services regulator could set the minimum regulatory rules (but not professional standards) for all legal services, so that consumers are protected, competition is fair and market confidence is assured," Dixon continued.

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Dixon also suggested that the job title lawyer should be more strictly protected, as professionals being able to call themselves lawyers without even having legal training was confusing for consumers.

"The public is unaware of who is and who is not regulated or of the levels of protection afforded to them if they instruct a solicitor as opposed to an unregulated provider," Dixon wrote. "This means that clients are unable to make informed purchasing decisions."

Dixon's article has been released shortly after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) started a market study into the legal services sector last month. Dixon took the opportunity to highlight that she welcomed the study in her piece.

As part of its study, the CMA will be investigating whether consumers are equipped with adequate information to make informed purchasing decisions.

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