Illinois Supreme Court announces new task force to review court fees

The Illinois Supreme Court and Chief Justice Anne M. Burke has announced the formation of a Supreme Court Statutory Court Fees Task Force. The task force has been established to conduct a thorough review of the new Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (CTAA), an act designed to reduce the statutory fees imposed or assessed on criminal defendants and civil litigants, the task force is mandated with examining the fiscal impact of the civil and criminal fee schedules. The task force will also review the implementation of the act, suggesting any legislative or rule changes that may be required.  The Task Force will submit a report and recommendations to the Supreme Court and General Assembly within one year.

The Task Force is made up of a bipartisan body of judges, retired judges, legislators, circuit clerks, and members of the private bar from across Illinois.

The new Task Force serves as a replacement for the Court’s original 15-person Task Force created under the Access to Justice Act. Recommendations from the original Task Force were the foundation for the CTAA .

Chief Justice Burke has said “The reforms enacted to simplify court costs were an important step and we are grateful to the original Task Force for its hard work. There was always the expectation that additional improvements would be necessary, and we look forward to hearing from the new Task Force on what those might be.”

Read more about the task force here. 

Law Society of British Columbia to Widen Access to Legal Services

On September the 10th the Law Society of British Columbia elected to make changes suggested by a task force on modernisation established this January.

The task force cited ongoing changes in the legal market, which have been accelerated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the pace of change in other jurisdictions, as to why change was needed.

Recommendations include:

  • evaluate how existing and emerging technologies can better support legal services and address regulatory impediments that exist in permitting their use
  • move to amend regulatory structures to allow for innovation in legal service delivery and alternative business structures while protecting the public
  • re-evaluate current regulations and restrictions on law firm ownership and investment, as well as multi-disciplinary practice and partnership structures to ensure they are not inhibiting innovation
  • advance its initiative on the regulation of licensed paralegals to improve access to legal services
  • regularly reach out to and develop resources to support in-house counsel and government lawyers
  • continue work on Indigenous legal services by understanding where more support is needed and listen to and work with Indigenous peoples to address that need
  • re-consider the accreditation process for lawyers in British Columbia, with special consideration given to how to incorporate more skills-based training into that process

The task force was set up with the following mandate: “Recognizing that significant change in the legal profession and the delivery of legal services is expected over the next five to 10 years, the Futures Task Force will identify the anticipated changes, consider and evaluate the factors and forces driving those changes, assess the impact on the delivery of legal services to the public, by the profession and on the future regulation of the legal profession in British Columbia, and make recommendations to the Benchers on the implications of the anticipated changes and how the Law Society and the profession might respond to the anticipated changes.”

And began the recommendations by saying: “Change is constant in all aspects of our lives, and this is true in the practice of law as well. Client expectations, competition among lawyers and with other professionals, technology, generational expectations, and societal norms all affect what lawyers do and how they carry out their practice in important ways. Society’s expectations of what lawyers do and how they should do it also change. How lawyers keep up with these changes is very important for the availability of efficient and affordable legal services and for the confidence that the public has in the legal profession as a whole, and equally important for the sustainability of their practices and their personal well-being. A legal profession that is incapable of achieving outcomes that resonate with what society expects is one in which the public will eventually lose confidence. ”

Read the full recommendations here (PDF). 

Mayson Report: Final report published

The highly anticipated denouement of the Independent Review of Legal Services, which was first launched in October 2018, was published on the 11th June. The 340-page report which has been informed by a number of working papers, as well as an interim report, which has been fed into by a variety of actors in the legal sector is entitled Reforming legal services: Regulation beyond the echo chambers.

Professor Mayson has suggested in the report that all providers of legal services, should be registered and regulated by a single regulator, whether they are legally qualified or not. He suggested that regulation should move from the regulation of lawyers to the regulation of legal services, with different levels of regulation being applied depending on the public risk inherent in the work. By extension, this would mean that traditional legal qualifications would no longer be the sole entry point into the profession.

The report has been submitted to the Lord Chancellor, however, the Ministry of Justice in the UK has suggested that they currently do not plan to review the Legal Services Act 2007. Professor Mayson has therefore suggested shorter-term measures that can be introduced, as he feels that action must come sooner rather than later.

Professor Mayson suggested that especially as demand has moved online, the public are increasingly unaware of their rights in relation to regulated professionals, whilst lawyers are operating under a system where only a small percentage of their work is covered under the regulatory regimes they are supposed to work under. “The conclusion of this review is that the regulatory framework should better reflect the legitimate needs and expectations of the more than 90% of the population for whom it is not currently designed,” he wrote. The new framework would also allow for new provides such as lawtech providers to act within a regulated sector. 

Professor Mayson also described the current arrangement of 10 front-line regulators plus an oversight regulator as “cumbersome”, and recommended replacing it with a single, independent regulator – the Legal Services Regulation Authority (LSRA). “The requirement for flexibility, consistency, coherence and coordination across regulation within the legal services sector necessarily leads to a single regulator,” the report said.

Download a full copy of the report (PDF).

The response from regulators has been mixed with CILEx (read the CILEx response) and the Association of Costs Lawyers (read the Association of Costs Lawyers response) backing professor Mayson’s report, and the LSB (read the LSB response) saying that they will carefully consider his recommendations in relation to their ongoing work in reforming legal regulation. Whilst the Law Society (read the Law Society response) has suggested that given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, now is not the time to discuss reforms.

Also see the article at Legal Futures for a further breakdown of the regulatory responses.

Costs of regulation in England and Wales

The Legal Services Board found little evidence on the costs of legal sector regulation, so in late 2014 it surveyed the regulated community and in 2015 it commissioned a study of the incremental costs of regulation – those incurred to comply with legal regulation.

 

Categories of regulatory cost in the studies include:

  • Requirements to have separate client accounts
  • Information requests from the regulator (including applying for practising certificates).
  • Consumer information disclosure
  • Ongoing supervision activity by the regulator
  • File retention
  • Keeping up to date with changes to regulations
  • Professional development training course fees
  • Professional indemnity insurance

Legal Services Board. “The regulated communities’ views on the cost of regulation”. March 2015.

Legal Services Board. “In-depth investigation into the costs of regulation in the market for legal services.” 15 September 2015. Available from the LSB website, accessed 19 October 2015.