LawWorks welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Legal Services Board (LSB) consultation on its proposed strategy and business plan for 2021-22. We acknowledge and support the LSB’s strategy objectives for reshaping legal services to better meet the needs of society, and the three strategic themes that run throughout: fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services. We believe that there is role that pro bono can play in contributing to this, and hope this can be reflected in the strategy.
As the strategy acknowledges, there is significant unmet need for legal support, advice and representation; the LSB’s “State of the Legal Services Sector” found that 3.6 million adults in England and Wales have an unmet legal need. Addressing this gap must therefore be the priority. Whilst not a substitute for legal aid, or a replacement for funding for law centres and advice agencies, the contribution of pro bono is necessary, significant and growing – drawing on the legal professions’ social responsibility and proud tradition of providing legal advice and representation on a voluntary basis. However, this does not exist in a vacuum - pro bono needs appropriate investment and infrastructure to flourish and be effective and sustainable, and a supportive regulatory environment. As the legal services sector rapidly evolves with new ways of working, delivering services, and digital innovation, we hope that in the post-Covid environment issues around access to justice will be central to the LSB’s work.