CPD and continuing competence in 2017

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch April 2017. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

It’s now nearly 6 months since the mandatory introduction of the new Continuing Competence regime for solicitors and 4 months since the introduction of the new CPD requirements for the Bar which have similar aims. What do you need to do to comply?

Let’s look at solicitors first.

Legal education and trainng expert Melissa Hardee, writing in the Law Society’s blog, points out that meeting requirements is easier than you think. If your firm already has a considered training scheme in place, then there is not much more to do. But “If you’ve used [the SRA’s] toolkit as your starting point, you may have made unnecessary work for yourself and your solicitors, and imposed unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy.”

She uses the analogy of baking a cake. Previously solicitors had a recipe: clock up 16 CPD hours from accredited providers; now you can use whatever “recipe” you want, provided you achieve the required standards of competence and service, ie those in the SRA’s competence statement.

If you do not have the benefit of in-house training assistance, then you do need to put some thought into formulating and executing a plan, as simply clocking up 16 CPD hours will no longer cut it.

Grania Langdon-Down in the Law Society Gazette analyses how the new SRA regime is working out. Whilst most firms are finding the new approach easy to operate, the SRA has stressed that it is not a soft option: “it requires solicitors to think long and hard about their performance, rather than just attending training to accumulate hours.”

In essence it’s all about taking responsibility and keeping proper records: thinking about what training you need to undertake to remain competent, planning how you will address those needs, doing it and then recording what you did and what you learned.