The era of traditional landline phones is coming to an end as they are set to be phased out by next year. This shift will require businesses and households to transition to VOIP phone systems that utilize the internet for communication. For more information on this important change, be sure to check out Richard Khaldi’s informative note here.

The LPMA’s 2023 chambers’ salary and benefits survey report is now available for members to access here.

This survey provides valuable insight into staff remuneration practices within chambers and allows managers to benchmark their salaries and benefits against comparable sets.

Although the response rate was lower than anticipated, the data still offers useful information on how chambers approach staff remuneration, including pension provision, bonuses, and non-financial benefits.

LPMA members are encouraged to review the report and use the information to ensure their remuneration packages remain competitive in the marketplace. The LPMA hopes that future surveys will see increased participation from chambers, allowing for more comprehensive analysis and benchmarking opportunities.

A special thank you to Paul Newhall, Clare Kelly, and all those involved in leading and compiling the survey report.

 

The Legal Practice Management Association (LPMA) and the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) have today published the results of a workplace culture survey, which employees of barristers’ chambers were invited to participate in over the summer. This was the first Bar wide survey targeted towards employees and the first collaborative project between the LPMA and IBC.

Both the LPMA and IBC exist to provide supportive networks for their members, and they are working together closely to ensure that the Bar provides a workplace environment that is professional, provides good career development, and gives priority to the wellbeing of employees as well as the barristers.

The Bar Council conducts regular Working Lives surveys for barristers, but these surveys do not cover employees and contractors working in chambers. The LPMA and IBC therefore felt it was appropriate to commission a survey for the professionals who support barristers in Chambers. The survey was designed with the aim of broadly aligning with the Working Lives Survey to allow for a level of consistency with the questions that are asked of barristers. The project, undertaken with the support of the Bar Council, was an exercise to capture the experiences of employees across the Bar in their workplace with the aim of using the data to provide valuable benchmarks moving forwards.

The publication of this report coincides with the Bar Council’s recently published report on ‘Bullying, harassment and discrimination at the Bar, 2023’, which shows increasing numbers of barristers have had their professional lives made more difficult because of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour experienced in the course of their work at the Bar.

Jemma Tagg and Clare Bello of the LPMA said: “Although the bullying, harassment and discrimination figures align closely with national average data across all sectors, we have conducted this exercise because we feel strongly that there are improvements that can be made to the working lives of our colleagues and that nobody should be experiencing these behaviours in their workplace. The Bar can be both a rewarding and a challenging place to work, but creating a more inclusive environment through cultural change will also help us to improve diversity at the Bar, both in terms of barristers and in terms of the professionals who support them.”

Lucy Burrows and Geoff Carr of the IBC said: “It is clear to us through our recent survey, as well as that conducted by the Bar Council, that both employees and barristers face behaviours that have no place in the modern business environment. This is particularly poignant in an industry that is so inextricably linked with the rights of individuals and the rule of law. The IBC is committed to meeting the challenges identified in the results of the two surveys, and to ensure that the Bar provides an environment for all that is professional, provides good career development opportunities, and gives priority to the wellbeing of employees as well as the barristers we support. Direct and urgent action is needed to address the issues faced by those working in our industry, and our Education Committee will focus us on this straightaway, and separately we welcome the Bar Council’s suggestion of commission to start that process as soon as possible.”

The organisations are committed to educating and supporting their members and will also work closely with the Bar Council in developing recommendations for sector-wide improvements including participating in a review being commissioned by the Bar Council to address inappropriate and abusive behaviour.

 

The BSB has issued a consultation document seeking views on our regulatory expectations of chambers. This document reflects a series of roundtables with members of chambers and with representatives of the Bar Council, the Legal Practice Management Association and the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks in late 2022 and the first half of 2023. We plan to repeat these roundtables, beginning in the Autumn of 2023, to meet members of the profession in London, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Swansea and Newcastle. The full list of events is available below.

The proposals in the paper seek to provide chambers with greater clarity about regulatory expectations in the areas of maintaining standards, pupillage, equality and inclusion, bullying and harassment, wellbeing, access, sanctions and anti-money laundering, information security and governance. The BSB’s aim is to consolidate those expectations into a single online resource which we hope would be complemented by resources from the Bar Council, the Specialist Bar Associations, the Inns and Circuits, the Legal Practice Management Association, the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks and other professional organisations designed to promote the sharing of good practice between chambers. The full consultation document is available here. The Bar Standards Board welcomes written responses to this paper by 29 February.

The upcoming roundtables are as follows:

Should you like to attend any of these events, please email communications@barstandardsboard.org.uk as soon as possible, stating any accessibility and dietary requirements.

We are very proud to be working with our colleagues at the IBC on an important project looking at workplace culture at the Bar. The project is launching today with a survey which we hope will be completed by everyone who is employed in a chambers or other organisation working in a role providing support to barristers. This is the link to the survey – please circulate within your chambers and encourage your colleagues to share it with their peers:

Click Here for the Survey

The survey is open for four weeks. All responses will be received by Conduct Change – the independent research consultant commissioned by LPMA/IBC – and are anonymous. All responses will be treated in strict confidence.

If you have any questions, please contact nicki@conductchange.co.uk.

We have included below a statement from the Chair of the Bar endorsing our project. Thank you in advance for your support on this important research.

 

Jemma Tagg & Clare Bello

Co-Chairs of the LPMA

 

Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar

LPMA/IBC workplace culture survey

Workplace culture impacts the working lives of everyone at the Bar – barristers, clerks, and all chambers professionals. We know from previous Barristers’ Working Lives surveys that wellbeing, retention and progression of barristers are all affected by the way we are treated by colleagues. And if that’s true for barristers, it is likely to be true for chambers professionals too.

 The results of the Working Lives surveys have driven much of the work at the Bar Council to address the issues that affect workplace culture. Having a deeper understanding of the concerns of our members has helped to shape the Bar Council’s training and resources on bullying, harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behaviours.

 The Bar Council therefore welcomes this new initiative, led by the LPMA and IBC, to carry out a similar survey for their members and for the wider clerking and chambers community.

 Please share the survey and encourage everyone who works in chambers (apart from barristers) to complete it. As we have found with Barristers’ Working Lives, the more responses, the richer the analysis and the more the Bar’s representative bodies can do to support individuals.

For our Board, improving operational performance is our top priority. Last month I explained that we have already made progress in speeding up and concluding investigations. And our Independent Reviewers assure us that our decision-making has consistently been of a high quality. Building on these foundations, Deloitte is currently undertaking an independent review of the fitness for purpose and longevity of our key operating systems. We shall also soon be commissioning an independent review of our end-to-end enforcement process so that we can deliver sustained improvements in productivity, speed of processing and customer service, but with no loss of quality. I am determined to ensure that we embrace continuous improvement and hope that these measures will help us to do so in the coming months.

Perversely, because of the way our key performance indicators (KPIs) are measured, clearing overdue cases can make our performance look worse.  So don’t be surprised if our KPI performance occasionally appears to dip. I can assure you that we are working tirelessly to improve performance and that we are on track.

Last month we published an important report containing a summary of the latest available diversity data for the Bar. The report shows the continuation in 2022 of several positive trends, including an increase in the proportion of practising barristers who are female; who are from a minority ethnic background; who have primary care of a child; who have a disability; and who are aged 55 or more. It is encouraging to see the Bar becoming more diverse and better reflecting the demographics of the UK population. Nonetheless, there still remains work to be done to ensure, for example, that women and barristers from minoritised ethnic backgrounds are represented at the most senior levels of the Bar. We will continue to remind chambers to act to address these inequalities, including in the distribution of work, and I would urge all barristers to respond to our questionnaires so that we obtain the most accurate picture we can of the diversity of the Bar. These data are essential to forming an evidence base from which relevant and targeted policy can be developed, supporting us in meeting our statutory duties and achieving our equality and diversity objectives under the Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2022-25.

Elsewhere, our digital comparison tool (DCT) pilot study has welcomed another organisation – The Law Superstore. The Law Superstore will join the four DCTs already taking part in the BSB pilot, with further organisations expected to join in the coming months. Through this pilot, we are hoping to understand how the DCT market works for the Bar and its consumers. We are encouraging barristers to join the pilot and provide feedback on their experience of working with DCTs. To learn more, or to sign up to our pilot, please contact DCTPilot@BarStandardsBoard.org.uk

We are continuing our roundtables on the role of chambers this year. Last year we held very informative meetings in London and Manchester. In March and April this year we will be travelling to Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Newcastle to meet members of the Bar and hear your views on the role of chambers in promoting standards, equality and access to justice. The upcoming dates will be added to our events page on our website. I hope to meet as many of you as possible around the Circuits in the coming months.

Kathryn Stone OBE

Chair

Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update:

I would like to begin by wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

I won’t conceal from you that this has been a difficult start to the year for the Bar Standards Board. We have been subject to a good deal of criticism. The new Chair of the Bar, Nick Vineall KC, has rightly drawn attention to the importance of accelerating our investigations. We agree – though it must not be at the expense of the quality of our decisions – and  I return to this below. The Legal Services Board has made more wide-ranging criticisms. The BSB Board will be responding to the LSB later this month. I shall not anticipate that response except to reiterate the clear determination of the BSB Board and Senior Management Team that the BSB should be an effective, proactive and risk-based regulator in the public interest. You will find elsewhere in this blog some good examples of our proactivity and engagement on a number of fronts.

The BSB has recently been focusing on improving our performance and I am happy to report that, with regard to enforcement, we have already seen an improvement in the number of cases being processed through our system, with 61 investigations closed in the third quarter of 2022-23 against 31 cases in the second quarter. This improvement is encouraging and is testament to the hard work being done by BSB people to ensure we meet our targets and increase our productivity. We will continue to work hard to improve our performance in 2023.

The two new barrister Board members appointed last month, Jeffrey Chapman KC and Simon Lewis, have now taken up their appointments, as of 1 January. I look forward to working with them both, as well as continuing to work with current barrister Board member Irena Sabic KC who has been reappointed for another four years. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Irena on her appointment last month as King’s Counsel.

I would like to draw your attention to the 2023 Authorisation to Practise (AtP) period, during which practising barristers are required confirm their correct practising details and renew their practising certificates. You can find full details on how to do so below.

Finally, another important development to be aware of relates to the new prohibitions, introduced on 16 December 2022 by the Government, on providing trust services to or for the benefit of persons connected with Russia and designated persons. We have explained the new prohibitions below and further details can also be found in The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 17) Regulations 2022 (Regulation 18C) and in OFSI’s Russia guidance.

Kathryn Stone OBE

Chair

Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update:

Many of you will be aware of recent criticisms of the BSB by the Bar Council and the Legal Services Board. The LSB are the oversight regulator for legal service regulators and the Bar Council retain an oversight role for our work in regulating the Bar, so they both have a role in raising any concerns they have about performance. In some areas, like the timeliness of investigations, which both the Bar Council and the LSB have raised, we agree that we need to improve and we are investing significantly in improving the timeliness of our handling of reports while maintaining the quality of our decision-making. We have faced significant staff shortages in recent years while dealing with a significant rise in the number and complexity of reports – we dealt with 2,517 reports in 2021-22 – that’s a 54% increase compared to 2020-21 – and maintaining the timeliness of dealing with reports of alleged misconduct has been an issue for a number of regulators in recent years. But we can and will do better and we are always of course prepared to learn from individual cases which we should have handled better. In other areas, like the handling of online exams which the LSB mention, we have already improved. For example, we have learned the lessons from the failures in delivering the exams in 2020 and there has not been and will not be any repeat. But in other areas our assessment of our performance is simply different from that of the LSB so we are discussing these issues with them.

While we will always prioritise the delivery of our core regulatory functions, it is important that we are also proactive in taking forward the broader regulatory objectives in the public interest. On this, we can point to important developments since my last blog. In early December, we published a number of important reports on Bar training, with the aim of improving transparency and providing potential students with accessible and comparable information on the different course providers at which they may consider studying. We also published two reports on our internal governance processes, namely the annual Regulatory Decision-making Report which details the effectiveness and performance of our regulatory operations and our latest Independent Decision-making Body (IDB) Annual Report, which sets out the work of the IDB over the last reporting period.

I am pleased to announce that my Board has appointed two new barrister members, Jeffrey Chapman KC and Simon Lewis. I look forward to working with them both when they take up their appointments in the New Year, as well as continuing to work with current barrister Board member Irena Sabic has also been reappointed for another four years.

On 7 December 2022, in collaboration with our Disability Taskforce, we held a well-attended event to hear from disabled barristers about their experiences navigating their careers at the Bar, the barriers that they have faced, and what factors have helped them to progress. The Taskforce also shared its vision of how regulation might play a part in supporting a more disability aware and inclusive profession and discussed examples of disability inclusion best practice across the profession. You can view the recording of the event on our YouTube channel. You can also view a short film commissioned by the Taskforce and filmed by Taskforce member Mary Griffiths Clark. which tells the stories of disabled people at different stages of their legal careers.

I would also like to draw your attention to the new minimum pupillage award of £20,703 for 12-month pupillages in London and £18,884 per annum for pupillages outside London, which will apply from 1 January 2023.

We also have a quick reminder for currently authorised Pupillage Training Organisations (PTOs) who have not yet submitted an application for seeking authorisation as Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs). If you have not yet submitted an application, you will need to complete an application to become an AETO before 31 December 2022.  Any existing pupillage provider who does not submit an application before 31 December 2022 and does not have current pupillages registered with us at that time will no longer be authorised to recruit pupils after 1 January 2023.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a peaceful and restful Christmas break. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Bar in the New Year to achieve our core regulatory objectives and to effectively address the challenges we all continue to face.

Kathryn Stone OBE

Chair

 

Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update:

The Bar Council’s Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference begins in less than two weeks. Sign up to learn, debate, and network. Listen to over 40 expert speakers, develop your professional learning, and network with colleagues from across the profession. The keynote speaker has just been announced as former prisoner and successful broadcaster, Raphael Rowe, who will be speaking about his extraordinary life experiences as part of the Saturday afternoon programme. As well as the main conference day on Saturday 26 November, there will be three days of online sessions, with some in-person sessions at the Bar Council.

 

Discounts on ticket prices are available for chambers professionals, pupils and those in income bands 1 and 2, with further discounts for BRF subscribers and those booking 5 tickets or more.

 

View the programme and book your ticket today.

Kathryn Stone OBE Blog

In October our focus has been primarily on improving our performance, particularly in meeting our targets for the speed of dealing with investigations into possible professional misconduct. Despite recruitment and retention challenges, an increase in the number of cases referred for investigation, and a backlog of reports – partially due to the cyberattack we suffered earlier this year – we have been able to increase our productivity. The Board has established a special subcommittee to work with our Executive to monitor and improve performance and we have also decided to outsource some of our work in order to boost productivity further in the short term.  We will recruit and retain the necessary people in-house to meet our targets as soon as possible.

We have also now held the first two of our roundtables, in London and Manchester, looking at how we can work with chambers and employers to promote best practice in maintaining standards, improving access and promoting equality. We have already heard some very interesting ideas about how we can best work with the Bar Council, the Inns and Circuits to promote best practice and I look forward to meeting more of the Bar at the upcoming events planned in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, and Newcastle.

In late October, the Director General and I attended the two-day International Conference for Legal Regulators in Chicago, where we took part in part in a session on the ethical framework for lawyers and had interesting discussions about the opportunities (and risks) presented by technology in facilitating good value legal services and the role of regulators in promoting well-being. I took this opportunity to underline the important role which the Cab Rank rule plays in protecting access to justice and the independence of the Bar.

Following a review of its Scheme Rules earlier this year, the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has now notified us of its new Rules, which will apply from April 2023. I would encourage you to consult the full set of updated rules, which will be published on the LeO site in due course and would also like to draw your attention to one change in  particular : From 1 April 2023, the time limit for referring a complaint to the LeO will be reduced to one year, counted either from the date of the act or omission being complained about or from the date when the complainant should have realised that there was cause for complaint.

On 20 October, we held a webinar to discuss our Digital Comparison Tool (DCT) pilot, which you can watch here. A panel of speakers, including BSB and DCT representatives, explained more about the pilot and answered questions from the audience. The pilot itself is expected to run for at least 12 months and you can learn more about it on our dedicated webpage.  We are particularly focusing on employment law for this pilot, but anyone is welcome to join. If you do practise in employment law, I should very much encourage you to take part.  We want, through this pilot, to evaluate whether on-line comparison has a useful role to play in linking consumers to barristers.

Last month we also published our annual report setting out the action that the BSB has taken to counter money laundering and terrorist financing. The report provides an opportunity for us to share the work we are doing to prevent the Bar becoming involved in money laundering and to explain what everyone can do to support that work. It also sets out the action being taken in response to reports of possible breaches of the Regulations.

Finally, to mark Black History Month, our Head of Equality and Access to Justice Aminat Suleman interviewed our new Lay Board Member Gisela Abbam FRSA MBA and Barrister Board Member Professor Leslie Thomas KC. You can watch Gisela’s interview on our website and Leslie’s on our website.

 

Also in this month’s online Regulatory Update: