The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has launched a project to support its regulated community in developing more formal measures to promote diversity and inclusion, its chair announced today.
Dame Janet Paraskeva also revealed plans for a revised Customer Charter and that she has agreed to stay on as Chair of the specialist property law regulator for a second four-year term.
Speaking at the CLC’s Annual Conference in London this morning, Dame Janet said recent research showed licenced conveyancers were in good shape and approaching the coming year with confidence.
Last year also saw the first firms taking advantage of new rules that make it practical to move across from regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
“Whether it is specialist firms coming across as a whole or broader practices hiving off their conveyancing practice, we welcome new firms that are committed to long-term success and developing prosperous businesses for the benefit of the consumer,” she said.
However, she continued: “Our monitoring of the individuals working under CLC regulation reveals a persistent challenge in relation to career progression for women and participation overall by black and minority ethnic people.
“We need to see what we can do as a regulator to have more impact and better promote diversity and inclusion. We need to see how we can improve the support we can offer to firms so you can develop inclusive recruitment and progression policies and procedures.”
The 2017/18 Annual Regulatory Return – completed by all 212 firms that were licensed by the CLC for the full year covered – showed that 57% of firms, excluding sole practitioners, reported that they monitored the characteristics of their workforce, albeit mostly on an informal basis.
Over recent years, surveys have found that about three-quarters of the CLC-regulated workforce, but only around half of managers, are women. Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) participation in the workforce, at around 9%, is slightly lower than expected given that 14% of the population of England and Wales identifies as BAME.
Dame Janet said the CLC has commissioned an independent research organisation to examine the current position in regulated practices more closely, work which begins next month.
“While the CLC’s regulated community compares positively with other parts of the legal profession in terms of its diversity, there is more to be done. The results of our survey will help us prepare for a review of our Equality and Diversity Code and provide better support to you as individuals and as managers of teams and firms,” she told delegates.
Another move to improve the position of licensed conveyancers was to revise the CLC’s existing Client Charter, which was first developed some years ago.
“With the passage of time, and considering the Informed Choice requirements, we believe we can do more to make this a useful document that summarises for consumers what they can expect from CLC licensed property lawyers.
“We want to provide an easily digestible overview to give customers confidence and help differentiate you from other lawyers.”
As a result, the CLC has today issued a consultation on a draft revised charter.
She continued: “Later this year it will be four years since I first had the privilege of taking the chair of the CLC. I have accepted the Council’s invitation to take on a second and final four-year term.
“I am delighted that I will continue to work with the Council and staff of the CLC, forging ahead with our five-year strategy and continuing to drive progress on the CLC’s goals. I hope this will be a successful period for the CLC and the firms that we regulate.”