Adopting Regulatory Objectives for the Legal Profession

By Laurel S. Terry, Steve Mark, & Tahlia Gordon

In 2007, the United Kingdom adopted a new law called the Legal Services Act. This Act radically changed certain aspects of U.K. lawyer regulation. Section 1 of that Act identified eight “regulatory objectives” that provide the basis for the regulation of the legal profession. The United Kingdom is not the only jurisdiction that has identified regulatory objectives. A number of Canadian provinces, for example, have provisions that are tantamount to regulatory objectives. Australia is also in the process of developing such objectives and routinely uses “purpose statements” when enacting legal profession regulation. However, many countries—including the United States—have not explicitly identified regulatory objectives and do not use purpose statements.

This Article analyzes various regulatory objectives that have been adopted or proposed. It places the use of regulatory objectives and purpose statements in lawyer regulation in a broader context by describing some of the recent profession-specific and non-profession-specific regulatory reform initiatives. The Article recommends that jurisdictions that have not yet adopted regulatory objectives for the legal profession do so. Finally, the Article concludes by offering recommended regulatory objective concepts for jurisdictions to consider.