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The Smart Solicitors Guide to the new CPD regime

Mar 07 2016

(What you REALLY need to know about the changes to CPD)

Smart solicitors out there will see that the SRA’s updated learning regime isn’t actually easier...it’s harder. Harder, because instead of simply undertaking 16 hours CPD on any accredited course (whether it’s useful to your practice or not), solicitors now have to make an Annual Declaration:

"I have reflected on my practice and addressed any identified learning and development needs."

As from 1 November 2016, the new CPD regime will be compulsory for all solicitors, but many have already adopted it.

The change to CPD means that solicitors must now take full responsibility for their training. Whilst solicitors have traditionally been good at keeping up to date with legal developments, they have not always sought out ways to develop their lawyerly skills. The change of regime means that solicitors must now stop and take stock of what they need to learn in order to ensure their ‘continuing competence’ to be a solicitor. And that means legal knowledge AND skills.

Clever lawyers know that what differentiates them from the competition, and brings success, is not their legal knowledge - it’s their skills.  Communicating well, managing relationships with clients and colleagues, and understanding what it takes to run the business, are all key requirements for today’s lawyers. The Competence Statement is divided into four sections – and only one of those is related to technical legal practice.  The sections cover:

  1. Ethics, professionalism and judgement
  2. Technical legal practice
  3. Working with other people
  4. Managing yourself and your work

The SRA have set out in their guidance the process they expect solicitors to undertake in relation to the new CPD regime, This is helpful, because to date many solicitors are unsure as to what is expected of them. Anecdotally, some solicitors even believe that they "don't need CPD any more".

So here is the clever solicitors guide to the new CPD regime.

The Process

  • Reflect on your practice to identify any learning needs. It helps to refer to the Competence Statement while doing this. It's important to remember that the Competence Statement is generic and you will need to apply it to your particular practice in a practical way.
  • Plan how you will address your learning needs, identifying suitable CPD learning activities and how you will carry them out.
  • Complete the CPD learning activities.
  • Evaluate how the CPD learning activity has met the learning need you identified and how you can incorporate the new knoweldge and skills into your practice.
  • Record how you have carried out this process. The record demonstrates that you have taken steps to ensure your ongoing competence. You may wish to use the forms that the SRA have made available through their online toolkit.
  • Make an Annual declaration to confirm that you have completed the process outlined above. The wording for the annual declaration is available on the SRA's online toolkit.

The Activities

Now that it's no longer necessary to do CPD accredited courses, what exactly can you do?

  • Courses - on both the law and your skills
  • Coaching/Mentoring
  • Work shadowing
  • Watching videos and audio recordings on relevant topics
  • Writing on law or practice - this means website blogs and articles
  • Research
  • Work done towards a professional qualification
  • Preparation and delivering training courses

So there it is. We'd love to hear what you'll be doing to fill in your training record. Tweet us @KinchRobinson