Chapter 9: Client-centricity in legal services regulation
This chapter argues that client-centricity should be the overarching goal of legal services regulatory reform in common law North America. Client-centric regulators strive to ensure that clients and would-be clients have access to legal services which are high quality, affordable, variegated, and innovative. Client-centricity means raising regulatory sights beyond traditional goals such as ensuring lawyer competence and ethicality. It means taking responsibility for creating a legal profession and a legal services marketplace which meet the needs of people today. Client-centric regulation also attends closely to the interests of those who would benefit from being clients, but are not now able to be clients. In other words, client-centric regulation fosters access to legal services, and therefore access to justice. Client-centricity, perhaps counter-intuitively, means that regulators must devote more attention to some clients than to others. Large corporate and institutional clients usually have little difficulty securing high quality, affordable, and variegated services by themselves on the open market. By contrast, most clients and would-be clients who are individuals cannot do so by themselves. It is therefore these clients whose interests must be prioritized by regulators. Regulators must strive to protect the interests of all such clients, including those who voice no complaints about their lawyers. Client-centricity is an alternative to the competitive-consumerist agenda which has transformed legal services regulation in Northern Europe and Australasia.
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