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LSC to grade advocates?


By an unexpected route, the following landed in my inbox. I haven’t heard anything about this, nor had some friends in Criminal so this may be news. What is clear is that the Legal Services Commission are seeking to introduce competence assessments for Criminal Defence advocacy, both barristers and solicitor-advocates, with a pilot scheme to take place in 2009. Note the inclusion of an appeals process in the outline scheme. This is clearly intended to play a role in whether individual advocates receive legal aid funding or not.

The LSC email in full:
The LSC is seeking expressions of interest from suppliers with the
experience and capability to provide consultancy expertise in
competence assessment for the QAA Pilot.  The supplier will
research and analyse assessment options that can be used to
effectively assess the defined competence framework for criminal
defence advocacy. They will make recommendations as to the most
effective assessment route(s) that best cover the proposed 4 levels
of advocacy to be tested in the pilot. They will carry out, test,
and evaluate pilot assessments. It is envisaged the pilot will
comprise a maximum of 250 advocates including barristers and
solicitor advocates to be nominated by the QAA Project Team.
Suppliers will be required to work closely with the QAA Project
Team based at the LSC.
The contract will include 3 key stages. These stages will be fully
defined at the ITT stage but are likely to include:

1 Design research.
Research and report on options for assessing the QAA criminal
defence advocacy competencies. The LSC will then decide on which
option(s) are to be tested in the pilot. The supplier will then
The application process
Guidance for applicants
Recording and feedback processes
Appeals process
Options for pass porting and accrediting prior achievements
The supplier will be required to research and report on the
potential for in-house assessment by chambers/firms.
Stage 1 will commence as soon as the contract is awarded. It is
envisaged that this stage will be completed by January 2009.

2 Assessment Testing
Manage pilot assessments of 250 advocates across the proposed 4
levels of advocacy providing data to enable the QAA Project Team to
accurately analyse:
Efficacy of the options tested
Equality and diversity impacts
Cost and sufficiency of assessment routes and appeals
Financial and resource cost to advocates
Consistency of the assessment process.
It is envisaged stage 2 will commence early 2009 and be phased over
a 6 month period. Pilot participants will be nominated by the QAA
Project Team.

3 Evaluation
Provide accurate data to feed in to the overall pilot evaluation
including feedback from pilot participants and evidence sources
such as the judiciary, instructing solicitors, other sources
identified. Provide data to enable a full cost benefit analysis of
the primary assessment route and options tested.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Lost

    Time for a completly independent bar me thinks.. one that self regulates, but of course the best ideas are often the most expensive, and who would want to pay for quality?!?!

  2. Nearly Legal

    One might have thought that standards of advocacy might be an issue for professional bodies, rather than the LSC. Apparently, one might be mistaken in that belief.

  3. Lost

    Oh the f’ing LSC want their little shitty grubby hands over everything that the bar stands for! It is quite simple to grade an advocate.. look at their pay packet!!


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