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Professional competence, peer review and quality assurance in England and Wales and in Scotland

Sherr, Avrom and Paterson, Alan (2008) Professional competence, peer review and quality assurance in England and Wales and in Scotland. Alberta Law Review, 45 (5). pp. 151-168. ISSN 0002-4821

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Abstract

This paper notes the emergence of peer review as a means of quality assurance regarding the work of legal professionals. The peer review system used for public funding in England and Wales and Scotland has focused on a range of factors including inputs, structure, process and outcomes. The paper reviews different approaches to assessment, showing up the difficulties of direct observation, model clients, assessment of the management of cases and approaches which look at outcomes only in statistical terms. Specific criteria need to be generated for evaluating quality of performance and they have to be agreed by the professional groups concerned as an accurate representation of the necessary work. The paper goes on to discuss the optimum amount of such criteria, systems for assessment on a Likert scale and approaches in order to maintain consistency. The article then compares peer review in Scotland with England and Wales. The experience of the peer review studies in England and Scotland suggest that peer review based on files, an agreed set of criteria and trained reviewers can deliver an effective quality assurance programme.