Government seeks new LSB chair to help “reshape legal services”

Raab: Profession owed debt of gratitude

The government has begun recruiting the fourth chair of the Legal Services Board (LSB), with the Lord Chancellor saying they would play a key role in “reshaping legal services”.

The post, currently held by Dr Helen Phillips, becomes available on 1 April 2023.

The successful candidate, who cannot by a lawyer, will be paid £63,000 a year for a commitment of at least 70 days a year. This has not changed since the LSB started work in 2008.

The appointment is for four years, renewable for a further four.

Writing in the candidate pack, Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab said: “Too many people and businesses do not access the legal services that we know deliver better outcomes for them.”

He described the challenges as “deep-rooted”, with not all amenable to regulatory solutions alone.

“However, the LSB intends to ensure that regulation better connects legal services to those who need them through sector-wide collaboration.

“For example, by ensuring consumers have better access to information about the cost and quality of legal services, people will find it easier to shop around for legal advice and reward firms that offer high-quality, transparent, and affordable services.

“By ensuring legal professionals have the right skills and ethics throughout their careers, public confidence and continuing global respect for the legal profession in England and Wales will be built and maintained.

“By promoting an open stance to technology and innovation, new ways of delivering services can enter the market to narrow the gap between providers and consumers.”

Mr Raab said the chair would play a key role in “reshaping legal services better to meet society’s needs”.

Key tasks included reducing the “significant levels” of unmet legal need; improving diversity at all levels and supporting innovation in service design and technology to improve access to justice.
The job description highlights the need for “an independent mindset and resilience in the face of resistance, competing interests and close stakeholder and media scrutiny”.

The appointment panel will be chaired by Annabel Burns, director of judicial and legal services policy at the Ministry of Justice. She will be joined by Mrs Justice Yip, the Lord Chief Justice’s representative; Catharine Seddon, the LSB’s senior independent member; and independent panel member Jody Chatterjee, who spent 12 years as an independent member on the Judicial Appointments Commission.

The Lord Chancellor or another minister may ask to meet each of the candidates before or after interview.

David Edmonds was the LSB’s first chair for two three-year terms, followed by Sir Michael Pitt, who only served one term after the role was advertised. Dr Phillips took over in an interim capacity from May 2017 and was only appointed permanently, for a five-year terms, 14 months later.

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