Parallel session 1

by Paul Maharg on 11/07/2012

I attended Alex Roy (LSB), and Prof Rob Wilson (Warwick U, LETR consultant) on Identifying and Developing the Future Workforce.  Alex kicked off: large number of firms, mostly small (2-4 partners — over 20% of the workforce re solicitors, much larger proportion of law firms in E+W), few large firms.  Turnover looks like the internet long-tail curve.  A key trend is large firms entering individual legal needs market — conveyancing market typical example.  These types of firms have implications for skills bases, etc.  Another key trend concerns the services provided by paralegals — 150,000 authorised in the workforce.  Half of people doing legal services work not regulated…

Major question concerns skills of this element of the workforce.  The data presented by Alex was quite absorbing in its implications.  This is particularly true of online services. LSB recently conducted research on this with 4,000 consumers.  They analysed how they contacted them — internet-based searching was a key element.  18% used email and internet to communicate with their lawyer, 12% by post.

Impact on skills required?  There is a move away from general to specialist skills; law firms will see a wider range of people employed; increasing role for management of work carried out externally; more working checking & updating systems.

Regulation, and how it will change?  He observed that facilitating change and innovation was essential, as was improving customer service.  Regulation was moving from rules to outcomes-focused regulation (OFR).

[At this point my wireless conference connection disappeared, probably because I had to checkout.   Thanks Lowry Hotel, first rate five star service…  Blogging from iPad from now  on]

Conclusions:

1.. much of the market change involves changes to business needs from education & training.

2. challenges in the future are much like now – ensuring quality, regulating complex organizations

3. outcomes focused, entity based regulation will be central to dealing with the risks posed

4. some activies will inveitably be linked to specificc individuals possessing specific skills (education and ongoing training)

5. regulatory processes will be similar (outcomes, authorisation, conduct regulation and enforccement) but approaches will differ.

Rob Wilson next – three parts to his presentation: rationale – why make quantitiative skills projections, method and approach, and results and conclusions.
General rationale included helping key actors to take the best informed decisions about the  ffuture.  There are problems re forecasting, and constraints, but it can be useful.  There are problems re data in the Labour Force Survey – there are limited sample sizes for the legal profession.  He used Working Futures national employment projections, work done for Skills for Justice (2010), and models moderated by qualitative evidence.  Results will be fed to the LETR group in due course. His results, presented in graphic form so difficult to reproduce here on a wonky 3G connection,  showed interesting patterns of growth and decline in the workforce.  Some conclusions: assuming a gradual recovery of th economy, overall employment levels will rise; replacement demands are even more significant, with important implications for education and training.

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