3 CPD options – the benefits and pitfalls

3 CPD options – the benefits and pitfalls

By Nicola Jones, a director of Athena Professional and a specialist in legal training and development.

What prompted the proposed reform to CPD regulation?

Following the Legal Services Act 2007, the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) was established in 2011 to conduct a root and branch review of all kinds of legal education. The process was supported by the three main regulators, the SRA, the Bar Standards Board and CILEX. The LETR published its final report in June 2013.

Weaknesses in the existing approach to CPD provision were identified. In particular, the “minimum hours” approach to CPD was found wanting. The travesty of lawyers attending irrelevant CPD events just to clock up hours and “tick boxes” struck a chord. The LETR did not propose a specific model for CPD, although it is clear that reform was anticipated. However, LETR Recommendation 17 states that models of CPD should be founded on a planned approach to learning and reflection. It also recommends that, whatever changes are implemented, CPD planning and performance should be robustly monitored by regulatory bodies.

Following the LETR report, the SRA issued its “Training for Tomorrow” (TfT) policy in October 2013. The initiative included roadshows around the country. One of the elements of the TfT policy is CPD reform. An open consultation on three options for CPD reform concluded on 2 April 2014. The rationale for reforming CPD given in the introduction to the consultation document includes criticism of the exiting regime on the grounds that it:

  • is over prescriptive and inflexible;
  • concentrates on compliance with the arbitrary requirement to undertake 16 hours CPD rather than focusing on how CPD might assure competence;
  • does not enable us to target our regulatory resource to the areas of highest risk;
  • does not take into account the varied contexts within which solicitors now work and legal services are now delivered; and
  • is difficult to enforce in a meaningful way.

The SRA’s approach to CPD reform is about moving away from an “in-put” model towards an

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