State of Legal Services 2020 report


Our State of Legal Services 2020 report gives an in-depth review of the legal services sector following ten years of independent regulation. It is informed by data, evidence and conversations with a wide range of individuals and organisations and research by the LSB and others.

The report has two volumes, a narrative section and an extensive evidence compendium.

The narrative volume is also available in Welsh: Cyflwr Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol 2020 – Myfyrio ar ddeng mlynedd o reoleiddio.

Key findings of the report

We were established in 2009 to oversee the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. Our report concludes that despite the achievements of the last decade, the basic legal needs of many citizens are not being met.

Citizens today do have more choice when it comes to finding legal advice, and satisfaction with services has increased. However:

  • 3.6 million adults in England and Wales have an unmet legal need involving a dispute every year
  • More than 1 in 3 adults (36%) have low confidence that they could achieve a fair and positive outcome when faced with a legal problem
  • Nearly nine in ten people say that “law is a game in which the skilful and resourceful are more likely to get what they want”

While many are concerned about reductions in the scale and scope of legal aid and increased pressure on third sector advice agencies, other factors also contribute.

  • Many people and businesses lack the capability and confidence to recognise legal problems and get help.
  • Comparison websites and customer review sites are not well established.
  • Only 30% of consumers shop around, and only 2% use a comparison service before choosing a law firm.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges for both the profession and people who need legal services. Many are concerned that it has made existing social inequality starker. The pandemic has made the need for services that meet the needs of society more urgent.

A new strategy for the sector

To address these issues, it will be important to ensure that regulatory bodies put the interests of the public and consumers at the heart of everything they do. We have identified three areas of opportunity for all those involved in the sector to come together to drive improvement:

  • Fairer outcomes – widening public access to advice and support and ensuring that no one has a worse outcome or quality of service due to their background or life circumstances. The sector must also build a more inclusive culture which enables anyone to enter the law and achieve their full career potential.
  • Stronger confidence – resolving long-standing questions around the scope of regulation and broadening access to redress. It also requires regulators to put the right mechanisms in place so that legal professionals deliver consistently competent and ethical legal services.
  • Better services – giving consumers the information and tools they need to drive stronger competition, creating the right conditions for providers – including those yet to enter the market – to redesign legal services that respond to their needs. It also entails regulators fostering responsible innovation that commands the trust of both the public and legal professionals.

We will consult on a new strategy for the legal services sector this winter and work with organisations both inside and outside the profession to address the issues identified in our report.

More information

  • We have published a press release about our State of Legal Services 2020 report.

Work with us

  • We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this report and our strategy with stakeholders inside and outside the legal services sector. Please email  press@legalservicesboard.org.uk if you would like to arrange a meeting with us.

State of Legal Services 2020 event – 14 January 2021

Following the publication of our State of Legal Services 2020 report, we have developed a draft strategy for the legal services sector, alongside our draft business plan 2021-22. Our consultation closed on 05 February.

The draft strategy outlines the part that we will play in tackling the significant challenges facing the sector, and we are inviting others to say how they will also contribute.

On 14 Janaury 2021, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm , we hosted an online event to share the findings of our State Legal Services 2020 report and our draft strategy.

Please see the presentation slides: State of legal services 2020 webinar slides (PDF)

Please see the notes from the event: State of legal services 2020 webinar note (PDF)