The Times has a feature on David Edmonds, the new non-lawyer Chairman of England’s new Legal Services Board. He used to be the Director General of Oftel, old Blighty’s telecommunications regulator. Victoria’s equivalent, Victoria Marles, our Legal Services Commissioner and Chairwoman of the Legal Services Board, was formerly the Deputy Telecommunications Ombudsman. Weird, huh? England’s new Office of Legal Complaints has a £4 million budget, and Edmonds has a very sensible determination to staff it with top people. The guy has got it so right:
‘He is determined that his own outfit will be a match for the lawyers it deals with: “top people involved from the start.” His first task is selecting up to ten board members: 300 applications have been whittled to 50 names. The board, with a majority of non-lawyers, will be in place by September. A chief executive is also needed. “My goal is to recruit people who have the skill sets and intellectual abilities to be able to deal on an equal footing with the legal profession. You can’t have a board that doesn’t have the same quality of intellect.”
As to how he will proceed, the clue is with his work at Ofcom, where they did not “go down the Civil Service route” for staff but recruited from outside. A textbook he helped to write about setting up the regulator will serve as a guide.’
A good legal regulator needs top lawyers. And there is no way of getting them without paying top dollar. But you pay good money for good lawyers in house, and presumably you reduce your reliance on external counsel which must be a good thing for a legal regulator.