Paltry number of lawyers engage with review into unification of legal professions

Fewer than a dozen lawyers made submissions to a consultation on the proposed unification of the solicitor and barrister professions in Ireland.

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) today published its 125-page report on the subject, which it was required to produce under section 34 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015.

It recommends that the professions “should not be unified at this time” but commits to re-examining the issue in five years’ time in anticipation of changes in the landscape for legal services provision.

The regulator’s consultation, which began in February and was extended for an additional month due to the Covid-19 crisis, received 19 written submissions: 10 from institutions and nine from individuals.

The LSRA said the number of responses was “relatively modest given the significance of the matter under consideration and the potential implications of the unification of the solicitor and barrister professions, not only for the professions themselves, but also for consumers of legal services”.

In particular, it highlighted the lack of submissions from law firms, businesses and NGOs, as well as the lack of individual submissions from judges, lawyers, academics and students.

Of the nine individual responses, four were from solicitors, one was from a trainee solicitor and four were from barristers. There was only one woman and no senior counsel.

The LSRA said: “Regardless of whether or not such respondents hold a view on the binary question under consideration, their experiences of the current system and any potential consequences of unification would have been of benefit to the Authority.”

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