The Solicitors Regulation Authority has issued a reminder to solicitors that the new Continuing Professional Development scheme is just six months away.
The new scheme comes in on 1st November and removes the need to count the number of CPD hours whether they are or aren’t accredited.
Solicitors will be expected instead to reflect on the quality of their work and practice before undertaking training to keep themselves up to date and competent.
The SRA say they recently carried out a survey of firms which revealed that more than half of firms have yet to implement an approach compatible with the new guidance. Of those that had, 60 percent said they did this at no extra cost to their business and were able to align it with their firm’s existing systems. Three quarters said adopting the new approach took just three months or less.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “This approach is about protecting the public by making sure solicitors remain competent, ethical and up to date. We take this obligation seriously and will continue to require all solicitors to make an annual declaration about their continuing competence.
“We recognise that each individual solicitor and firm is different and will have different approaches to learning and development. We believe that removing the blanket 16 hours requirement will reduce the cost of regulation for some solicitors and their employers,while encouraging meaningful continuing professional development.”
Stuart Snape, Managing Partner, Graham Coffey & Co Solicitors, who have moved to the new approach, said: “This change of approach gave us the opportunity to stop seeing CPD as something “only for solicitors” or a “box to be ticked” and to better understand how it benefits our business. We know that it is in our firm’s interest to welcome a more personalised and flexible approach to continued training as it helps maximise our staffs’ potential. This means we will continue to deliver a high quality, professional service to the public.
“Our answer to adopting the new approach was to introduce an online training software with courses specific to our needs. This allows us to improve skills in key areas and focus any additional training where further clarity is needed. As Managing Partner, I found that by helping to create the training materials needed for this, it has also helped focus my mind on the direction the firm is taking and how I can take my staff with me.”
The SRA has an online toolkit to help both solicitors and law firms make the move, including advice on planning and recording learning, downloadable templates and real-life examples. According to the SRA, more than 85 percent of the survey’s respondents found the toolkit very helpful.