5.181 This chapter has sought to demonstrate the ways in which baseline quality is, and needs to be, signalled (and assured) through initial regulation, CPD and accreditation processes and specialisation, and evidenced through quality assurance mechanisms.
5.182 The chapter highlights the traditional reliance placed on regulation by title, and contrasts that with the growing interest in activity-based authorisation. It cautions that the risk of adding further layers of cost and complexity through activity-based authorisation may well outweigh the benefits to consumers. It notes that the impact of such regulatory changes would go well beyond LSET, and highlights the absence of substantive evidence regarding the actual benefits and risks of activity-based approaches. The chapter therefore calls for further investigation and research into the operation and implementation of activity-based approaches before further development along this road are undertaken. Alternative approaches to increasing competence are explored such as including pre- and post-qualification specialisation and enhanced CPD, and the chapter also considers the growing use of entity-based approaches to regulation in line with moves to OFR. Entity based regulation is supported at a number of points in this report, particularly as regards CPD monitoring and workplace quality assurance.
5.183 Flexibility in LSET is critical to future workforce development: it supports innovation and diversity, and should assist in sustaining a competitive, good quality, legal services market. Regulators are encouraged to experiment with a more permissive approach to alternative training models and pathways. In the context of a market-led ‘mixed economy’ approach, the report does not propose pushing change towards common training or necessarily greater blending between classroom and workplace, though it encourages experimentation in both directions. It also highlights the need for greater coordination of, and transparency in, setting transfer and exemption criteria between regulated occupations.
5.184 The discussion of CPD, specialisation and re-accreditation explores both content and structural issues. The need for CPD, even within a re-accreditation framework, is taken as given, and a number of areas of core activity are highlighted: ethics and regulation; management skills; supervision; and diversity training. The case for re-accreditation at this stage is regarded as not proven, particularly in the light of substantial reforms that could be made to enhance the effectiveness of CPD. The development of more rigorous and consistent approaches to specialist accreditation is encouraged as part of this enhanced approach to CPD.
5.185 The final section on quality assurance processes explores existing pre- and post-qualification mechanisms. It highlights both the extent and the limits of institutional QA, and, in line with Chapter 4, particularly stresses the need for greater coordination and standardisation of assessment activity. It notes the relative lack of regulatory emphasis on workplace QA, and makes the case for an entity-based approach to QA in the workplace built around developmental audit.
5.186 Chapter 6 will build on this chapter to consider the remaining substantive issues not so far addressed by this report: the regulation of fair access; the role of regulation in creating a more responsive CPD system; the reach of regulation into paralegal work; and the importance of better information provision across the sector.