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SRA ANNOUNCED THE ABOLITION OF COMPULSORY CPD TRAINING – WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL THIS MAKE TO THE ACCIDENT VICTIM?

Earlier this year, the SRA announced that it would be introducing a new approach to continuing professional development (CPD).  This will involve removing the current requirement for solicitors to undertake 16 hours CPD per year. Solicitors will still need to keep up-to-date and firms will need to have training systems in place to ensure their solicitors are competent. But how they do this will in future be a matter for them, so that they can decide for themselves what training they need to do and they can do it in the way which suits them best.

This change in approach does not mean the SRA attaches any less importance to solicitors remaining competent to practise. Entities and individual solicitors will still be required under Principle 5 of the SRA Handbook to provide a competent standard of service, and the SRA will continue to require an annual declaration from individual solicitors that appropriate professional development has been undertaken.

But the new approach will enable solicitors to focus their training where it is needed instead of doing training just because it is a regulatory requirement. It will mean that what counts about training is not the time that it takes, but the difference it makes. Individuals will need to reflect on the quality of their work and use that to determine the training they need to do, and to justify the resource they need to ask for from their firm, instead of relying on the 16 hours rule.

The new approach will also  introduce greater flexibility and remove restrictions on the types of training which count. It will enable CPD to move into the 21st Century. By way of example, in future there will be no requirement that accredited training must take place in hour-long blocks. If you want to learn on the go, using your phone or tablet, or in bite-size chunks, that will be entirely a matter for you.

For some, moving to this new approach may require a significant culture change. To ensure that firms and individuals who need it have an appropriate length of time to consider what is required to implement the new policy, we have delayed full implementation of the new approach until November 2016.

However, we know that others are keen to move quickly to the new system. So those who wish to do so will be able to opt in on a voluntary basis from Spring 2015. We will issue information before the new practice year 2014-15 about the transitional arrangements for those who wish to move to the new approach on a voluntary basis.

In Spring 2015, we will publish a toolkit for practitioners, containing:
• the new competence statement for solicitors, which will explain what all solicitors need to be able to do competently;
• guidance on how to reflect on your work and identify training needs;
• information about the range of ways in which training needs may be addressed;
• suggestions about how to record and reflect on training undertaken;
• examples of good practice.

Ensuring a smooth transition to new ways of working is a key priority for us. We will ensure we engage regularly with stakeholders regarding the move to the new approach and the timing of the proposals. If any firm or individual has questions or wants to know more about the new approach, please visit http://www.sra.org.uk/t4t email us at t4t@sra.org.uk or tweet us @sra_t4t

Julie Brannan
Director of Education and Training
Solicitors Regulation Authority

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