Claire Perry - owner of Emplaw Online – on how to survive the new CPD regime & her tips for solicitors
If you’re a solicitor, you could be thinking of changing to the new system in November but may be uncertain about what it means and how to comply.
So, what is changing?
CPD requirements are changing from a requirement to complete a fixed number of hours per year to an approach of continuing competence, which requires a solicitor to ‘consider and undertake the learning and development you deem necessary to ensure your ongoing competence and that you are in a position to provide a proper standard of service to your clients.’
Since 1st November 2014, there has been no requirement to undertake accredited training as part of the CPD requirement and the SRA no longer accepts applications for authorisation from CPD providers.
When does it change?
• The new approach will be implemented for all solicitors from 1st November 2016.
• As of 1st April 2015, solicitors can choose to move to the new approach
What do the changes mean?
In essence a solicitor must:
• Reflect on their practice;
• Identify their learning and development needs;
• Plan how to address their training needs;
• Address those needs; and -
• Record and evaluate the learning activity
Training records must be retained for a period of at least six years and the SRA may request to see a person’s CPD training record at any time.
The changes could be a good thing…
Losing the stricture of fixed hours and accredited training should mean the end of courses for the sake of courses and the October dash to sign up to whatever courses, in whatever practice areas available!
On a more positive front, it should also open the door for more bespoke learning for lawyers at different stages in their careers and in different types of organisation. For example, social media training might be a real need for certain lawyers in certain types of firms.
Similarly, the new approach widens the pool of tools that might be adopted. Whilst the Law Society practice note gives examples of the types of activity, it is by no means a definitive list. So, for example, we will no doubt see the increase of more internet based tools which lend themselves to more regular, smaller modules than traditional courses, a definite plus in keeping up to date with changes in the law.
Surviving the changes
If you are uncertain how to comply with the requirements, we set out some tips below:
• As ever, the mantra is ... prepare. It would make sense to choose to adopt the new scheme when the next CPD year starts on 1st November 2015 or, at the latest, the following November when it becomes mandatory.
• Make record keeping simple if it is to have a chance of being kept updated
Put together a learning and development plan. The SRA has a sample training and development plan in the section on Recording Your CPD & Assessing Training Needs at http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/cpd/solicitors.page.
Put together a simple CPD record which records what you have done and when and evidence of evaluation. It is probably still useful to record the time the activity takes, to give it some measure and, when it comes to evaluation, to record any key learning points and any actions you will take as a result of the learning.
• Make the time (by magic if necessary!) to record what you have done.
Other tools to help
The SRA has sample training records and a sample training and development plan in the sections on Recording your CPD and Assessing training needs at http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/cpd/solicitors.page.
The Law Society has issued a Practice Note here