Decision time: CPD or continuing competence?

Decision time: CPD or continuing competence?

From 1 April as an in house solicitor you will - in common with your private practice counterparts - have a decision to make regarding your 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 the SRA’s new “continuing competence” regime.

The indications are that a sizeable proportion of your colleagues are 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 adapting to the new learning culture 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 end of the mandatory 16 hours target

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 this has been generally well received by those private practice solicitors who may have struggled to accommodate learning within a culture emphasizing billable hours, the in house community appears more ambivalent. A survey conducted by the Commerce & Industry Group among its membership last autumn revealed that almost a fifth of respondents felt that their organization’s attitude to their taking external courses would definitely change and that it may become even harder to obtain budget sign off without the mandatory requirement to complete 16 hours. The likely result of this is that you may become even more reliant on free training provided by law firms, as informing your employer that you need funding to attend an off-site course to ensure that you can continue to provide a proper standard of service may not sound as compelling.

The end

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About the author:
Stephen has 25 years’ experience in the legal information and training business and, prior to joining LexisNexis in November 2014, launched a range of e-learning solutions for the Law Society. His arrival coincides with a period of transformation in the regulation of legal CPD and   he is excited at the prospect of ensuring that LexisNexis’ professional learning portfolio develops to meet practitioners’ changing needs.