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From 1 April 2015, your firm will have a decision to make regarding its approach to ongoing learning, with the SRA offering you the choice of either sticking with the existing continuing professional development (CPD) scheme or switching to its new “continuing competence” regime.
The indications are that a sizeable proportion of the solicitor profession is likely to opt for the new approach, with a poll taken during an SRA webinar broadcast on 16 October showing that 30% of the audience was intending to do so. As the scheme will apply to the entire profession from 1 November 2016, there’s much to be said for being an early adopter and embedding the new learning culture within your practice sooner rather than later.
However, the downside – which was highlighted in the same poll which showed that 60% of the audience was still undecided – is that, with the details of implementation yet to be fully revealed, it’s not entirely clear what you will be opting into!
So what do we know about the SRA’s approach to continuing competence?
The most widely reported aspect of the new scheme is the scrapping of the annual requirement for solicitors to undertake 16 hours of CPD. While the end of the annual target seems to have been well received by those who struggled to accommodate learning within a culture emphasizing billable hours, the previous scheme did at least provide certainty.
The removal of the target is designed to encourage solicitors to take a more planned approach to training and focus on activities that will improve knowledge and skills in areas that will directly benefit them in their work. Previously there was an impression that many felt pressured to attend courses that weren’t directly relevant to their practice – particularly in the run up to the end of the CPD year. One possible impact of this change of emphasis is that a greater number of firms may choose to source bespoke training in-house which can be tailored to their specific requirements, rather than attending external courses which may attempt to cater to a diverse audience with a “one size fits all” approach”.
In tandem with removing the annual hours targe
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