The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (Lsra)

The 2020 report, Setting Standards: Legal Practitioner Education and Training, recommended reforms to define, for the first time, the skills and standards required to practise as a solicitor or barrister. It recommended establishing a legal framework for the accreditation of existing education and training providers for legal practitioners. It also recommended for the first time that new providers be allowed to be accredited to professionally train solicitors and barristers. As many of you know, the LSRA is the independent regulator of the Irish legal profession. The LSRA was created to independently regulate the provision of legal services by legal practitioners and to ensure that standards in the provision of these services in the state are maintained and improved. This is LSRA`s fifth annual report, describing its functional performance in 2020, taking into account the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Audit Committee meets in groups of 3 people and may review the LTRA`s decisions on complaints about inadequate legal services or excessive costs. The Audit Committee was not required to perform this function in 2020. The 2020 report covers the first full year of complaints under the ARSA. The LTRA received and investigated a large number of complaints in 2020. In addition, informal complaint resolution guidelines and other documents outlining complaint policies and procedures have been posted on the SLSRA website.

It is about supporting the public and legal practitioners. The Complaints, Investigations and Solutions department has grown steadily from 12 at the end of 2019 to 19 at the end of 2020. In September 2020, a report containing 12 recommendations for reform of the training of legal practitioners was submitted to the Minister for Justice and presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas in November 2020. This was the second report on the regulation of legal education and training in the state. Overall, the LSRA had a good year, given the Covid-19 restrictions. This was an important year as it was the first full year with several key functions and the availability of legal partnerships. The RSSA has taken a number of positive steps to ensure the independence and protection of the regulation of the legal profession for those who have access to legal services. We are following with interest whether there will be a recommendation in the future for a possible merger of the professions of solicitor and barrister, as the legal landscape is constantly evolving.

Once an application has been classified as a complaint, the LTRA must conduct a preliminary review to determine whether the complaint is admissible. The LTRA must inform counsel in writing of the complaint, provide a copy of the complaint, and request a written response with comments. Complaints staff may also request additional information in writing from the complainant or counsel at this stage of the preliminary review. A total of 496 complaints (35%) were received alleging that the legal services provided were of an inadequate standard. Of these, 153 concerned disputes, 112 involved estates and 112 transfer of ownership. Only a client or a person acting on behalf of a client may file a complaint if the client believes that the legal services provided are of an inadequate standard or that the amount of fees claimed is excessive. With regard to alleged misconduct, any person may lodge a complaint. Another important ratio, greater than the sum of its parts? The review of the unification of the legal profession was submitted to the Minister of Justice in September on whether the legal profession and lawyer should be harmonized.

The report concluded that it would be premature to recommend an association. The LSRA has committed to revisiting the issue within five years. It is expected that the legal services landscape will have developed sufficiently during this period to be reassessed. In the first statutory report of 2018, a review team was tasked with making a number of proposals to reform the training of legal practitioners. The review team found evidence of a lack of clarity about the qualifications required of a lawyer; the existence of indirect barriers to access to the profession; unnecessary duplication of learning and assessment; a mismatch between the skills taught in current VET courses and the needs of users of legal services; the existence of quality gaps and the lack of independent oversight of the legal practitioner training system. The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) is responsible for the regulation of solicitors and barristers in Ireland. It was established in 2016 under the Legal Services Regulation Act, 2015. The LSRA is independent in the exercise of its functions. The Minister called for further research and a report with recommendations for change, taking into account the economic barriers faced by young lawyers and lawyers after their professional qualifications, paying particular attention to equal access and access to the legal profession in order to achieve greater diversity. The ARLS team has begun and will continue this work through professional interviews with interns and early career individuals.