Westminster Law School is one of the main research centres for the study of the legal profession in the UK. It focuses on the changing dynamics of the legal profession and legal services market.
England and Wales have introduced one of the most liberal legal services regulatory regimes in the world through the introduction of the Legal Services Act 2007. New categories of legal services supplier have entered the market, such as chartered legal executives (with increased professional recognition) and Alternative Business Structures (new models of legal business structure). Frontline legal regulators are increasingly being called upon to oversee types of legal activity rather than purely one type of legal professional, and a new oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board, oversees these frontline regulators. The impact of these changes is having global repercussions, and globalisation is also changing the face of legal service delivery and legal professional practice in the UK as well.
The Centre on the Legal Profession (COLP), examines the issues arising out of this changing landscape, employing the tools of empirical and socio-legal research. We also teach students and others about the changes to the profession and how legal education itself is changing.
The Centre undertakes activities and research organised into the following strands:
- Legal Ethics
- Regulation and the Profession(s)
- Legal Technology and the Profession
- Diversity and the Legal Profession
- Legal Education
- Pro Bono, Access to Justice and the Profession
- Dispute Resolution
- Empirical Legal Research and the Profession
COLP also aims to bridge the gap between professional and public understanding of law and legal services by reaching out to the public through blogs, social media, radio and the press. It informs the policy agenda by providing research findings relevant to governmental and non-governmental policy development.
Members of the Centre on the Legal Profession currently collaborate with academics from the Universities of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and East Anglia in the UK.
Elsewhere we are working with Harvard Law School, University of Miami School of Law, Michigan State University and St Gallen University in Switzerland.
We have received grants and funding from a variety of bodies, including:
- Economic and Social Research Council
- Solicitors Regulation Authority
- Law Society
- Bar Council
- Leverhulme Trust
- Nuffield Foundation
- Legal Services Board
- German Science Foundation
- UK Centre for Legal Education