Episode 4: The new emerging role of legal industry regulation and regulators
Within the discourse on innovation in the legal industry there is a recurring theme – more could be done if it were not for outdated regulation! It’s also sometimes suggested that Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSP) can offer their services more effectively and efficiently because they are not regulated. There is much to unpack in that discussion, probably a podcast all on its own. But regardless of where one finds themselves in this debate, it’s easy to agree that there is a balance to be found between the protection of consumers, maintaining ethical standards and the high quality of legal services on the one hand, and the need to dramatically improve access to affordable justice on the other. As we listen to this podcast today, we know that balance has not been struck. We also know that the best legaltech/AI, legalpreneurs and ALSPs in the world, did not create an access to justice gap, but rather have sought, in part, to bridge it.
So, in this time of change in the legal industry, we are presented with an opportunity to rethink and reinvent not just how legal services and products are delivered or by whom but, more broadly, the entire role and function of regulation and the regulator. It’s not a new idea or focus. And, it will not be achieved without thoughtful consultation and collaboration. It has featured significantly in recent legal industry reviews and reforms in places like the UK, is picking up momentum now in the US in states like California and Utah and it’s been at the forefront of discussion in Australia too.
We spoke with Jennie Pakula, the Manager, Innovation and Consumer Engagement at the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSBC) about her unique role in Victoria, how it came about, and how it might act as an example or a new way to progress change in regulation and the role of the regulator in the legal industry. Topics covered in our conversation included:
- Identifying the major pain points for the consumers of legal services;
- The importance of change in the legal profession;
- The changing nature of the relationship between regulators and regulated in the legal profession and, with that in mind, how VLSBC’s Innovation Inbox works;
- What regulators of the legal profession around the world should be focussed on right now;
- Where Australia sits on the world stage as far as innovative legal industry regulation is concerned; and
- Looking a little further down the track, if there will still be a role for regulation of the legal profession.