Approval for a 13% increase in the budget of the Legal Ombudsman has come with a warning that it must make deliver this time or face losing its role in dealing with complaints against lawyers.
The Legal Ombudsman has scaled back its planned increased budget for the coming year, but it is still set to increase by 13%, or another £5 per lawyer.
There has been a striking improvement in staff morale at the Legal Ombudsman, where the proportion of staff desperate to find another job has fallen from a third to just 8% in a year.
The Legal Ombudsman has paid compensation to one of its ombudsmen after being found guilty of indirect sex discrimination, Legal Futures can reveal.
The Legal Ombudsman is “setting itself up to fail” by proposing to give itself more work than it can cope with and asking for an “extraordinary high” budget increase of 19%.
The Legal Ombudsman’s proposed 19% budget increase is not justified, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers has said in calling for an external task force to help it deal with complaints more quickly.
The Law Society has told the Legal Ombudsman to ask the government for “Covid-related financial assistance” instead of expecting the profession to fund a proposed 19% budget hike.
The decision on whether to approve a 19% increase in the Legal Ombudsman’s budget is likely to be “finely balanced”, with the possibility of having to find an alternative to it lurking in the background.
The Legal Ombudsman’s first ever in-year call for supplementary budget, seeking an extra £344,000, has gone to the Lord Chancellor for approval after being given the green light by the Legal Services Board.
The Legal Ombudsman is planning a 19% increase in its budget for 2021/22, and a further 6% the year after, arguing the scheme is currently in an “unsustainable position”.
In the absence of full-scale office-based working, law firms and corporate legal departments will need to find new ways of ensuring collaboration and knowledge sharing among their legal professionals.
What the pandemic has brought into sharp focus for firms is a desire to reduce costs. In 2019, research found cost reductions were last on a long list of priorities for firms; now they are near the top.