The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) has announced plans to carry out what it describes as a “comprehensive” survey of young barristers and solicitors.
The online, anonymised survey will cover trainee and early-career solicitors and barristers, as well as law undergraduates.
The watchdog is undertaking the project after a request from Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (pictured), for the authority to “consider the economic and other barriers faced by young barristers and solicitors, and to make recommendations”.
The LSRA survey is being conducted with independent research company Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A).
It is being distributed via email during October, with the assistance of the Law Society, the Bar of Ireland, and King’s Inns.
The survey will cover student barristers, trainee solicitors and practising barristers, and solicitors who are in their first seven years of practice.
Law undergraduates are also being surveyed, with the assistance of the law departments of a total of 15 universities, colleges, and Institutes of Technology around the country.
Pay and costs
The LSRA says the fieldwork from the survey will feed into its forthcoming report to the Minister for Justice, who has asked the watchdog to examine:
- The remuneration of trainee barristers and solicitors,
- The other costs associated with joining each profession,
- The information available to prospective trainee barristers and solicitors on available masters and solicitor firms,
- The information available on the terms and conditions available, and how they are selected,
- Any other barriers faced by young barristers and solicitors – including the ability to take maternity leave.
Minister McEntee stated at the time that this research was part of her plan to increase diversity across the justice sector – including the legal professions.
The LSRA has been asked to pay particular attention to equity of access and entry into the legal professions, and the objective of achieving greater diversity within the professions, and to make recommendations for change.
In conducting this exercise, the body has been asked to engage with all relevant stakeholders – with university law students, those students currently in the Law Society and King’s Inns, and newly qualified members of both professions.
In addition to the survey, the LSRA has invited written submissions as part of the research project.
In November last year, the authority reported to the minister on the education and training of legal professionals. The report, Setting Standards: Legal Practitioner Education and Training, recommended reforms to define, for the first time, the competence and standards required to practise as a solicitor or barrister.