24 March 2018

BSB Chair Sir Andrew Burns' KCMG blog (June 2015)

I can't quite believe that I will have been in my post for six months by the end of this month! Where has the time gone?

Well, in an attempt to answer my own semi-rhetorical question, my time has mainly been spent working with the executive team and my fellow-Board members, formulating ideas for the future direction of the BSB. As some of you may already know, in 2016 we will be publishing our next three-year strategic plan, so, at the moment, carefully considering the content of that plan is taking up a lot of time. It is set to be a crucial period in the development and maturity of the regulation of the Bar. I can't say too much about the detail at the moment, but we will be consulting on our proposed strategy later in the year so do watch out for that. 

That doesn't mean to say that we are sitting around waiting to publish a new strategy. Far from it! The direction of travel is clear: pursuing the regulatory objectives by offering more ways for barristers to compete in the provision of legal services, encouraging a strong and diverse Bar. And of course, we must do this in a way which simultaneously promotes and protects the public interest.

Recent examples of this include our application to the Legal Services Board to become an Alternative Business Structure licensing authority, and the ongoing flow of advocacy-based entities applying to be regulated by the BSB. On this latter point, you might like to read a fascinating Q&A style interview with the founder of one of the first BSB-authorised entities in this issue of Regulatory Update. It provides a really interesting insight into deciding to structure practice in a different way.

The other thing which has been taking up my time during my first months in post, has been an ongoing series of meetings with people who are interested in or affected by our work, the Bar itself, and its key influencers. Among the many people whom I have talked to in recent weeks, I have been very pleased to meet a broad cross-section of our senior judges, the Director of Public Prosecutions and her Chief Executive and some of those, like the Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, who are particularly concerned with consumer needs and perceptions.

The recurring theme has been "change".

For example, I have been hearing about the government's plans to introduce technological developments to the court and case management systems. These developments seem to have been widely welcomed by both the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary. So, it seems to me that if this happens, barristers will have to make adjustments to the way in which they manage their caseload and conduct court proceedings. I think it is going to be something for us all to watch in the future.

It has been a busy and interesting first few months. I fully expect the next few months to be the same!