In Industry Insights, Industry Insights

Have you set up your new policies and procedures to deal with the change in CPD?  Time is running out – you only have until the 1st November 2016 to switch to SRA Continuing Competence.

If you haven’t done anything yet don’t worry, we are here to help with this simple overview and a FREE template policy.

SRA Continuing Competence FREE template

Download your FREE SRA Continuing Competence Policy template

What is changing?

The 16-hour requirement is gone. The new regime of continuing competence focuses on the regulatory requirement to ‘provide a proper standard of service’ (Principle 5). The competence statement is an integral part of the new approach, it contains 89 competencies organised over four sections: Ethics, professionalism and judgement; technical legal practice; working with people; managing yourself and your own work. The statement is generic so will need to be applied to your specific role and practice area. All solicitors need to be familiar with the competence statement – that’s an important first step.

On first glance there is no doubt that the new regime looks daunting, however the main thing to remember about SRA Continuing Competence is that there are 3 (yes only 3!) core steps that you need to follow:

1. Reflect on your practice
2. Plan and address those needs
3. Record and evaluate the actions to address those needs

1. HOW TO REFLECT

This step of SRA Continuing Competence requires you to identify learning and development needs using the competency statements. Here are some possible ways you can reflect:

  • Consider work you have undertaken and your strengths and weakness, these can be technical in nature (e.g. relevant updates, AML) or skills based (e.g. negotiation, client care)
  • Take a broad holistic approach to your area of practice and look at alerts and periodical updates, you can look at the CPD year and consider what updates may be useful for you.
  • Client/Manager feedback or Appraisals – consider feedback you have been given to consider what areas need further work.

2. HOW TO PLAN AND ADDRESS YOUR LEARNING NEEDS?

Planning is probably the easiest bit of SRA Continuing Competence. Once you have reflected on what your learning needs are, you then have to plan how you will go about addressing them. The SRA has made clear that it is entirely up to you how you address your learning needs as long as you can demonstrate how it contributes to you delivering a proper standard of service (back to principle 5 again!). There is a long list of possible ways you can address a learning need from formal training to coaching and mentoring and even social media! Check out our template for more information.

3. HOW TO RECORD AND EVALUATE

Recording simply under SRA Continuing Competence means noting:

  • What you did
  • How it was related to ensuring your competence (i.e. how did it meet your learning need?)
  • What you have learnt; and
  • When the activity was completed

The essence of evaluating is reflecting on what you learnt. This is essentially a step further than the old system, rather than just recording what course you attended you have to evaluate whether that course met your learning needs.

In theory you could reflect and decide that you have no learning and development needs. However, in a rapidly changing legal market, we will leave you to explain that to the regulator!

Once you have done all of the that you are ready for the final bit of SRA Continuing Competence, the annual declaration to the SRA at PC renewal time that you have done all of the above:

‘I have reflected on my practice and addressed any identified learning and development needs’

Don’t forget that the declaration in most firms is done via the bulk renewal exercise, which has a couple of practical implications.

Firstly, it means that there will have to be a management system in place to monitor that everyone is engaging with the new regime, and identifying who is not.

Secondly, there will need to be agreement between the individual lawyer and the firm that the declaration can actually be made. We can foresee circumstances where the solicitor refuses to give consent to the declaration if they feel the firm has failed to invest in professional development…

Have a look at our template policy and see if it works for your firm. Feedback is welcome!

BONUS CONTENT FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Learning and development plan template (spreadsheet).  Click here and sign up to get the template.

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