Centre for Legal Profession and Legal Services
Who we are
During the last 20 years research and scholarship on the delivery of legal services and the organization and work of the legal profession has expanded rapidly. Abel and Lewis’ three-volume series in the 1980s opened a new field of research both national and comparative. Since then there has emerged a wide range of research approaches to legal profession and legal services: organizational, geographical, on lawyer-client relationships, ethics and malpractice, on politics of lawyers, cause lawyering, and diversity in the legal profession, to name some.
The University of Westminster’s School of Law has been and continues to be at the forefront of legal profession and legal services research. Our work includes research on solicitor-advocates, women in law, pro bono and ethics, theorisations of legal ethics and morality, legal education, entry into the legal profession , cause lawyering, lawyer-client relationships, and the globalization of the legal profession. We have also researched in the areas of dispute resolution in civil justice, dispute resolution in the family law context, legal aid, and litigation funding.
We have received research funding from, amongst others, Nuffield Foundation, ESRC, Law Society, Legal Services Commission, Bar Council, Department for Constitutional Affairs, German Science Foundation, and ACLEC.
The centre is composed of fellows and associate fellows. We also have research students attached to the centre. Please follow the links below to find out more.
- Prof Richard L Abel, UCLA Law School, Visiting Professor, University of Westminster
- Prof David Barnhizer, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Visiting Professor, University of Westminster
- Prof Andrew Boon, Dean of School of Law, University of Westminster
- Ms Elizabeth Duff, Head of Dept of Academic Legal Studies, University of Westminster
- Prof John Flood, School of Law, University of Westminster
Dr Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Reader in Law, University of Westminster
- Dr Magdalena Tulibacka, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Westminster
- Dr Lisa Webley, Reader in Law, University of Westminster
- Ms Avis Whyte, Principal Research Fellow, School of Law, University of Westminster
- Dr Daniel Muzio, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations, Leeds University Business School
- Roger Smith, Director of JUSTICE
- Chris Maguire, Director of Quality Assurance and Enhancement, BPP College of Professional Studies
- Richard Parnham, PhD candidate, School of Law, University of Westminster
For more information please contact Prof John Flood at email@example.com
The Modern Research Context
This is an opportune time to be launching a new research centre on the legal profession and legal services as they are experiencing their most profound changes in many years following the passing of the Legal Services Act 2007. In addition to its mainstream research activities the centre will study and inform both the profession and others who are affected by these changes.
The act introduces new regulators, especially the Legal Services Board, and new forms of organization for the delivery of legal services, such as Legal Disciplinary Practices and Alternative Business Structures. And this may place pressures on current conceptions of legal ethics and best practice approaches to lawyering. It may require a radical rethinking of conceptions of professional ethics in the context of transparency and accountability. It may also change the way in which clients engage with and perceive legal services and alternatives to traditional legal service delivery.
Although the main impact will be felt in the UK, the eventual repercussions will be global. Law is a global business and profession. The UK has some of the largest law firms in the world and competes with lawyers from the USA and Europe. Its legal services market generates revenues in excess of £14 billion and accounts for over 20% of the European legal market.
New organizational forms — whether Big Law or at the supermarket level — will transform the delivery of legal services and at the same time create tensions with foreign legal regulators who take more restrictive views of the legal profession.
The legal profession also faces challenges from governments who want to restrict expenditure on legal services for poor people. Legal aid now covers less than 29% of the population. Mixed models of delivery have become the norm: judicare, salaried lawyers, legal expenses insurance, third party litigation funding, and pro bono.
The centre will run research projects, organize seminars and workshops, and disseminate information through its website and blogs.
Over the last 20 years there have been dramatic changes in the legal profession. In 2008/09 women made up 46 per cent of practising solicitors and 60 per cent of entrants to the profession. For the Bar the figures are 34 per cent (women barristers) and 50 per cent (women entrants). In the case of black and minority ethnic lawyers there has been a 244 per cent increase in their numbers between 1996 and 2006. However, despite these increases the legal profession is still dominated by white males. There is a greater division with white lawyers being over-represented in City law firms and at the Bar, while BME lawyers are found in greater numbers in smaller High Street law firms.
The research presented in this seminar examines the causes for these differences, their persistence and what strategies are available to change cultures and expectations.
The full report and summary can be downloaded from the Centre's webpage at http://www.westminster.ac.uk/schools/law/news-and-events/events/2010/diversity-in-the-legal-profession-seminar-barriers-and-choices.
Andy Boon and David Barnhizer, with Avrom Sherr, Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, organised an international conference, Regulating and Deregulating Lawyers, at the Institute on 3rd and 4th June 2010. The conference was attended by US, Canadian and Australian, lawyers academics and regulators, including representatives of the Legal Services Board, and was opened by Baroness Ruth Deech, Chair of the Bar Standards Board and Charles Plant, Chair of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A range of issues were covered, from regulation of lawyers in tribal courts to curbing contingency fees, but the main focus was the increasing adoption of entity and audit approaches to regulation, as found particularly in the UK, Australia and Canada. Many were in favour of this development, arguing that lawyers had much to gain from being regulated as businesses. Others expressed concerns at the erosion of professionalism by the state, including threats to lawyer independence. John Flood, Lisa Webley and Andy Boon presented papers.
Andy Boon, Dean of the School of Law, will be presenting on the model ethics syllabus for undergraduate law course and research findings at the Law Society Halls on the 4 November 2010. The conference is titled Ethics in the Qualifying Law Degree and will be attended by members of the profession, in particular training or compliance partners, who view ethics as an essential element of legal education and training, or who would like to learn more about the Law Society’s campaign to have ethics included in the Qualifying Law Degree. To find out more about this conference and how to register, please click here.