Guidance for barristers on the new CPD requirements

Barristers must soon complete their CPD for 2017 and be able to declare that they have done so. Are you in a position to do so?

Review the following précis of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) CPD requirements and make sure you have complied. If you feel that you have not yet complied, we can help you do so, simply and efficiently, with our CPD 2017 service.

The following guidance is taken from the extensive Bar Standards Board (BSB) guidance on the new CPD requirements for established practitioners. So far as possible we use wording taken directly from the BSB guidance and rules which should be consulted for fuller details. Where we are interpreting the official guidance or making suggestions, we make this clear.

The new requirements

If you are a practising barrister of more than three years’ standing, then you need to complete CPD in accordance with the BSB rules for the Established Practitioners Programme (EPP).

Compared with previous EPP schemes, the CPD requirements for established practitioners from 1 January 2017 mean that:

  • you will have more individual responsibility for deciding what CPD activities you require;
  • you will be able to choose from a wider range of CPD activities; and
  • there is no longer a requirement to complete a minimum number of accredited hours.

Detailed guidance on CPD for Established Practitioners has been published by the BSB and should be referred to for full detail.

Practitioners of less than three years’ standing should comply with the New Practitioners Programme.

The definition of CPD has not changed from the previous one:

“CPD is work undertaken over and above your normal commitments as a barrister. CPD is undertaken with a view to developing your skills, knowledge and professional standards in areas relevant to your present or proposed area of practice. This is in order to keep yourself up to date and maintain the highest standards of professional practice.”

The required stages you need to complete are:

  • Planning. Complete a plan of the CPD that you are going to undertake: set learning objectives which should provide specific aims and outcomes.
  • Recording and evidence. Complete CPD activities and keep a record of them.
  • Reflecting on your CPD activities. Which learning objectives you completed, which you did not complete and why, which you changed.
  • Declaring completion. Submit a formal declaration that you have completed your CPD requirements.


You should determine the learning objectives you intend to complete during the calendar year. A learning objective is a statement of what you hope to achieve through your CPD activities and an explanation of why you want to achieve it. For example:

“To become qualified to provide direct access advice to the public to improve my ability to provide advice to a wide range of clients and deliver a cost-effective service to lay clients.”

You should consider the following knowledge and skill areas:

  • Legal knowledge and skills
  • Advocacy
  • Practice Management
  • Working with clients and others
  • Ethics, professionalism and judgement

You should set out the type of CPD activities you intend to complete in order to meet your learning objectives. It is good practice to complete a variety of different types of CPD activities. This might include different activities such as lectures, workshops, podcasts, reading etc. The guidance document provides several examples.

A non-exhaustive list of CPD activities includes:

  • taking part in formal face-to-face training courses, including university courses;
  • online courses;
  • podcasts;
  • attending conferences;
  • taking part in seminars or webinars;
  • reading or research;
  • authorship and editing of published works of a professional nature. This could include exam papers; substantial consultation responses; law reform proposals; professional updating e-zines / blogs;
  • presenting seminars, lectures and workshops;
  • teaching a relevant legal course eg LLBs, LLMs, the GDL, BPTC, LPC or Diplomas in Law.

The following activities do not count towards CPD:

  • work completed as part of routine practice, including pro-bono or volunteer legal case work;
  • research completed as part of routine practice, including pro-bono or volunteer legal case work;
  • updating social media accounts including twitter;
  • following a social media account;
  • blogging unrelated to your current or proposed practice.

There is no prescribed minimum amount of CPD. Your own circumstances, seniority or practice area and type may be relevant.

Recording and reflecting

You should record the relevant CPD activities that you have completed that have met your learning objectives. This should include:

  • title/description of your CPD activity;
  • date (or date range) of your activity;
  • type of CPD activity;
  • CPD provider (where applicable);
  • knowledge area the CPD activity relates to;
  • learning objective(s) met by the CPD activity;
  • reflection on your CPD.

Reflection involves considering how you have implemented the learning from the activities you have done, reviewing your development in the light of this and then considering what further CPD you need. It could include noting:

  • which learning objectives you completed, and how the activities you completed met your learning objectives;
  • which learning objectives you did not complete and the reasons why not;
  • which learning objectives you changed;
  • what you need to complete in future years.

The BSB has produced a suggested template CPD Plan and will produce completed examples of CPD records designed to act as useful prompts. However, if you prefer you may use a different approach to structure your plan and complete your CPD requirements.

An alternative structure for your plan

The BSB suggested template is presented in a complex tabular format. Whilst it may provide a useful reference to what should go into your plan, we believe most practitioners will be much more comfortable preparing and maintaining a simpler document in a linear format, with headed sections setting out your objectives, your planned activities, and then your record of completed activities and reflections.

This is the approach we have taken in presenting the Plan in our CPD 2017 service. We present ready-made Objectives, then list the Activities (courses) you have selected. As you complete each course, you complete the associated form, providing completion details and recording your reflections. Then update your Record.

Should you wish to copy any of this text or merge the information into a larger master plan, you can simply copy and paste direct from the Record web page.

Declaring completion

The BSB requires that you formally declare that you have completed CPD during the annual Authorisation to Practise process.

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