Who we are

The Legal Services Act 2007 outlines our role and our responsibilities. These include:

  • regulation of approved regulators and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
  • oversight of the Office for Legal Complaints (which is responsible for administering the Legal Ombudsman scheme)
  • making recommendations to amend the list of reserved legal activities
  • setting up voluntary arrangements to improve standards (if required)

In all of our work, we must consider how best to promote eight regulatory objectives set out in the Act. This document explains how we interpret these objectives as we undertake our role.

Our tools

As an evidence-based regulator, we decide which tools to use to address any specific regulatory issues that we identify, based on the evidence available to us.

The range of formal and informal tools available to us include:

  • advocacy and communications
  • publishing research findings, best practice recommendations and guidance
  • making statutory decisions (for example about proposed new rules and regulations, practising fees, or applications from regulators to regulate new areas)
  • assessing regulatory performance (in general and in relation to specific thematic issues)
  • agreeing action plans and monitoring performance against them
  • using formal enforcement powers, and
  • exercising other statutory powers – such as requiring the provision of information or reports by approved regulators or the OLC.

Our regulatory approach

In line with better regulation principles, we expect to be transparent, consistent and predictable in what we do and have published our regulatory approach to support this.

Our approach is summarised in the diagram below:

We have also published worked examples of our approach in action.

About us – Frequently Asked Questions:

Why was the LSB created?

The 2001 Office for Fair Trading report, Competition in the Professions, identified a number of issues that had the potential to disadvantage consumers in the legal services sector. Following that work, Sir David Clementi undertook an independent review of the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales. His 2004 report highlighted the need for a new oversight body to bring much-needed consistency and clarity to the regulation of lawyers, and a sharper focus on the interests of consumers. That body, the Legal Services Board, was subsequently established under the Legal Services Act 2007. The Act sets up a framework that includes eight regulatory objectives which will ensure a clear focus on regulation in the public interest.

How is the LSB paid for?

A principle underlying the Legal Services Act is that the legal profession should pay for the LSB and the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), which is the body that provides the Legal Ombudsman service. Accordingly, the LSB is required to impose a levy on the approved regulators and that levy covers the full cost of running the LSB and OLC.

How much does the LSB cost and what is the size of the LSB?

We publish information about our costs in our annual report and accounts and in our costs statement.

We have a small team of around 30 staff and a Board.

Does the LSB cover the entire United Kingdom?

No. The LSB is the oversight regulator for legal services in England and Wales. Its remit does not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Is the LSB really independent?

The LSB is independent both of government and the profession. Our Board has a lay Chairman and a lay majority, meaning that its membership brings to the table the perspective of non-lawyers. While the LSB is part of the public sector, it operates independently of government. This was important as maintenance of the rule of law was thought to depend on the regulation of lawyers being handled independently of government.

Is the LSB the same as The Law Society?

No. The Law Society is the professional representative body for solicitors in England and Wales. The LSB oversees the work of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is the independent regulatory arm of The Law Society.

How many lawyers are there?

From our Market Structure Research of 2019.

  • As at 1 April 2020 the number of persons authorised to undertake reserved legal activities by their respective regulator were:
  • 146,913 Solicitors with practising certificates (146,050 in 2018)
  • 16,982 practising Barristers (16,598 in 2018)
  • 7,156 practising members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. Most Legal Executives work for Solicitors’ firms, although a few work independently from Solicitors (7,587 in 2018)
  • 1,404 Licensed Conveyancers in England and Wales (1,368 in 2018)
  • 740 registered Trade Mark Attorneys (872 in 2018) and 2,163 United Kingdom registered Patent Attorneys (2,060 in 2018)
  • 750 Notaries (775 in 2018) and 733 authorised Law Costs Draftsmen (708 in 2018)

How can I become a lawyer?

Entry to the legal profession has become highly competitive, with those wishing to enter greatly outnumbering the places available. We have been working collaboratively with approved regulators and Skills for Justice to developing a map of the current qualification routes and create profiles of each branch of the legal profession which falls under the oversight regulation of the LSB. Each profile appears in the legal services section of Skills for Justice Career Pathways portal which provides information on careers within the justice system.