News release

Six month countdown to adopting new approach to continuing competence

With less than six months to go until the old CPD requirements no longer apply, we are reminding solicitors and law firms to get ready for the new approach to continuing competence.

All solicitors must move to the new approach on 1 November 2016. The counting of CPD hours will no longer be needed and the requirement to do particular types of training, whether accredited or not, has also gone. Instead solicitors should reflect on their practice and the quality of their work, then undertake meaningful training to make sure they stay up to date and competent.

A recent SRA survey shows almost half of the law firms and solicitors who responded have already moved to the new approach. Of these, 60 percent said they did this at no extra cost to their business and were often able to align it with their firm's existing systems. Three quarters said adopting the new approach took just three months or less.

We have a toolkit to help both solicitors and law firms make the move, including advice on planning and recording learning, downloadable templates and real-life examples. More than 85 percent of the survey's respondents found the toolkit very helpful.

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 already 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 new approach to continuing competence is linked to our Competence Statement published in April 2015, which defines the standards required of all solicitors.

For more information please visit our toolkit.