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is the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) new mandatory regime on continuing professional development (CPD) for solicitors? Nicola Jones, co-founder and director of Athena Professional and a learning for performance consultant, takes a
look at the new rules and provides guidance on how firms can implement them into their practices.
The prevailing view was that CPD needed to be more flexible and orientated towards the needs of the individual. Central to the whole rationale was the move to the idea of ‘competence to practise’ – a solicitor
and his/her employer are now required to make a declaration of competence to practise, which, in effect, confirms that the requirements of the job and the knowledge, skills and attributes of the individual have been actively
addressed through an on-going process of learning and reflection.
The introduction of a competence-based regime opens up the continuous learning agenda. Central to this is the idea that a firm can identify its own competencies, as long as they fit with the over-all import of the SRA’s
competency statement. Further, not everyone is expected to have the same competencies. This throws up three brilliant business opportunities to:
The other hugely important change is that learning is no longer a set thing, ie a number of hours – it can be whatever the business needs it to be and that includes recognition of a wide range of learning activities,
such as private research or reading, as long as those activities are related to a learning need and evidence of the application of the learning can be provided. Crucially, there is an opportunity for the legal sector to
leap frog over 20 years of developing online learning and move straight to using what digital learning has to offer.
Both are important to be able to evidence a cycle of learning, the application of learning and continuing assessment of learning need. However, there is a real risk that the opportunity to use learning as a driver to achieve
business goals is lost if the only change is to tighten up pre-existing systems.
The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
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