CPD: Out with the ‘Old’ and in with the ‘New’

For anyone who has been in a compliance/ training/ HR role in legal practice, the month of October has typically presented such people with a cohort of Solicitors (of varying post qualification experience) frantically trying to locate their last few hours of CPD to reach the quota of 16 for the year.

In principle with the ‘new’ competence statement being compulsory from 01.11.2016 that mad dash at the end of the CPD year should in theory be stamped out – and rightly so.

Perhaps architects of their own misfortune it is certainly true that CPD by some is haphazardly chosen and sometimes can even be irrelevant to practice but nonetheless still ticks the quota box from a numerical perspective – perhaps by way of example: a criminal law solicitor-advocate specialising in indictable only offences under the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 choses a course on resulting and constructive trusts with reference to Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 – in other words potentially completely irrelevant or at best a peripheral curiosity from an academic perspective.

The rule which is the important crux of the change is as follows:

Principle 5.

‘Provide a proper standard of service to your clients’

As with the outcomes and indicative behaviours we are all used to, the first questions which come to mind might be – 1. What does this mean 2. How is it measured 3. Who says what that is etc.

In short, and as actually expected from other professional regulators (i.e. the General Medical Council), this is about individuals taking ownership and responsibility for their own education and working out what they need to do to remain competent and ‘…provide a proper standard of service to your client…’.

From a recent seminar the writer attended it was stated as of June 2016, of those firms surveyed only 46.1% of firms had implemented the new regime showing that there are many clinging to the old regime until forced to change.

16 hours is easy to evidence when it comes to attending courses (i.e. certificates) but the new competence statement requires reflection and planning. It is likely this which will be the crucial factor for Solicitors and how they evidence this moving forward.

Anyone who has not familiarised themselves with the new regime is strongly recommended to review the SRA website and the continuing competence toolkit: http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/cpd/tool-kit/continuing-competence-toolkit.page

By Nicholas J. Browne - Associate and Solicitor.