Four years on, BSB starts paying for Legal Choices again

Online resource: Legal Choices a key element of public legal education

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has decided to restart paying its share to the cost of the consumer-facing website run by all the legal regulators, four years after pulling out.

The 2019 decision to end its backing for Legal Choices angered the Legal Services Board (LSB) and Legal Services Consumer Panel.

The LSB criticised the decision for being taken “without proper information and analysis to support it”.

It set the tone for the LSB’s subsequent scrutiny of the BSB’s performance that led to it having to put in place an action plan for improvement this year after scoring by far the worst in the LSB’s annual assessment of whether the regulators are meeting the standards it expects of them.

The plan, published this week by the LSB with updates on progress, revealed that the BSB was rejoining Legal Choices, having returned in a small way last year by contributing to the ‘Can you trust your legal adviser?’ section, which details disciplinary records.

The BSB’s withdrawal was made on the grounds that it could better meet its public legal education obligations by providing information about how to get legal help from barristers via its own website.

A spokesman told Legal Futures: “The board has been keeping our public legal education strategy, including the extent to which the BSB takes part in Legal Choices, under regular review and we have already been participating in its ‘Can you trust your legal adviser?’ feature for some time.

“The board’s decision reflects their view that the website now offers better value for money than when the BSB withdrew in 2019.

“We have not yet agreed the size of our financial contribution with our partners but the suggestion is that this should involve some increase in the website’s budget rather than simply a reallocation of shares.”

Sarah Chambers, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said she “warmly welcomes” the BSB’s decision. “This is a good move that will serve consumers’ interest and provide complete coverage of regulated legal services issues on the platform.”

Legal Choices is seen as a key tool in public legal education about the profession and looks likely to host the proposed single digital register of all authorised lawyers.

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