The scope of the research

1.9     LETR has been the first review to consider legal services education and training across the whole legal services market, including both regulated and unregulated providers.

1.10     Strategic decisions regarding the scope of the research were made to ensure that, within constraints of time and funding, a balance was achieved between breadth and depth of review, and between matters of general principle and detailed evaluation.

1.11     The research has focused on LSET, rather than legal education more generally. LSET:

  • focuses specifically on a central purpose of legal education and training – assuring the quality and competence of those who deliver legal services, whether under an established professional title or not. LSET also draws attention to the fact that legal education is, at least to some extent, geared towards the delivery of services. LSET is not exclusively an education in the law, but a preparation for all aspects of the public profession of law. This encompasses the development of (inter)personal and business skills that will enable practitioners effectively to deliver legal services to consumers,[1] a commitment to standards of ethics and service due to clients, other lawyers and consumers and a commitment to the rule of law, to democracy and justice;[2]
  • acknowledges that ‘liberal’ academic legal education and public legal education are largely outside LETR’s terms of reference, except insofar as their outcomes are directly relevant to regulating the legal services market; and
  • does not limit analysis specifically to any place, time or conventional stage of education and/or training.

1.12     The research specification prioritises investigation of the regulated sector. This is defined as those delivering legal services as authorised persons[3] or as paralegals working under supervision within a regulated environment, such as traditional law firm entities, alternative business structures (ABSs) and any other licensed entities under the LSA 2007. Work on the unregulated sector has involved a review of the literature on unregulated legal services and some qualitative and quantitative research focusing chiefly on will-writing and employment advice and representation. Conclusions in respect of the unregulated sector are provisional and intended to set an agenda for further research, but the unregulated sector is seen to be important and is not ignored.

1.13     Attention has been given where possible to the smaller professional groupings and interesting findings arise from these. Work has focused on the constituencies of the three largest approved regulators: the BSB, IPS and SRA and the size of each constituency and their consumer focus has dictated to some extent the depth of enquiry.

1.14     In conducting the research, LSET has been viewed, understood and, so far as possible, treated as a single system of education and training within an overarching and diverse legal services sector. Education and training practices have developed individually within autonomous occupations. This tendency has had an important impact on legal services as a whole. This is not to imply that the consequences of such occupational individualism have been entirely negative. They are in part a reflection of specialisms and market effects that have seen legal services become increasingly segmented, and roles within the sector more specialised and functionally differentiated from each other. But such segmentation of training has major consequences for workforce flexibility and mobility, cost of training and access to legal services. These issues are explored in this report, and are reflected in a number of the final recommendations.


[1] In general this report will use the term ‘consumer’ to denote all those who are actual or potential users of legal services in England and Wales (cp the definition of consumer in s.207, LSA 2007), and the term ‘client’ to denote those who are actually using specific legal service providers. The term consumer is used generically to include both individual and commercial/corporate consumers, though it is of course recognised that there are commonly substantial differences in terms (eg) of access and informational barriers between corporate and individual consumers.

[2] These wider purposes are at the core of the regulatory objectives created by the LSA 2007, and are discussed in the Literature Review, Chapter 3.

[3] Barristers, Chartered Legal Executives, costs lawyers, licensed conveyancers, notaries, patent and registered trade mark attorneys, and solicitors, as well as accountants authorised to undertake reserved probate activities.