The New SRA Regime is Coming..

The New SRA Regime is Coming..

A change is coming. Wave good-bye to the annual 16 hours of CPD. From November 1st – the new SRA – Competence Statement kicks in. The days of having to leave the office, to attend a long day of legal training are no more – why bother going to a legal training course when you don’t have to gain 16 hours of CPD!?

Unfortunately, a lot of solicitors will think this – however legal training is as important as ever.

There will be of course positives and negatives for both individuals and firms from using the new Competence Statement.

By having the Competence Statement, it is now clear exactly what a solicitor has to do in order to be competent.
It is clear, easy to read and is broken down into areas that are relevant to them, their clients and their colleagues.

The Competence Statement can also help law firms to effectively produce competency frameworks for their solicitors and start to measure effectiveness not just by billable hours.

However, it may be difficult for solicitors to effectively identify the most suitable learning, training or development they need in order to be competent. In addition, where there is a focus on fee earning, now there is no specific amount of set hours needed, there may be a risk of some solicitors not gaining the technical knowledge they need to do their jobs competently.

As with all new systems, there needs to be effective procedures in place for solicitors to be sure that they can demonstrate their competence.

This goes hand in hand with firms feeling comfortable with the fact that their staff are meeting the Competence Statement and that they will comply with Principle 5 of the Handbook.

I went to a training course earlier this month, as I wanted to understand the new SRA Competence Statement better and see how the SRA would monitor it.

Attending the course was a mix of Training managers, HR managers, COLPs and a rather handsome Training Co-ordinator (ME!). Before the course started we all grabbed a coffee and I had a quick chat with a couple of them about how confusing the new regime was and how on earth this was going to be monitored.

Everyone was hoping the course would open our eyes to the new regime and we would all know what to do when November 1st hits.

The first part of the session went through the range of competencies – ALL 91 OF THEM! They are formed in 18 sub-sets all grouped into four sets of workplace competencies.

A – Ethics and judgement (In Set A there are 5 sub-sets and 22 competencies)
B – Technical Legal Practice (In Set B there are 7 sub-sets and 32 competencies)
C – Working with Other People (In Set C there are 3 sub-sets and 25 competencies)
D – Managing Yourself and Work (In Set D there are 3 sub-sets and 12 competencies)

Looks confusing? It is.

Even though each competency is easy to read, the downside is that there are so many of them to actually read and take on board.

After going through and reading all this – it was time for a coffee break and to rest the eyes.

I spoke to the HR manager who was despairing at having to go through all 91 competencies with 88 solicitors.

I spoke to the COLP who was getting very frustrated at not knowing how this will be monitored and how he could prove that all his solicitors would be reflecting on each of the competencies

I spoke to the training manager who was thinking about his training budget and whether this new regime would mean he would cut down on sending solicitors from his firm onto training courses anymore.

Coffee break over – we all walking into the training room hoping we would be given more information.

Turns out – we were all slightly disappointed.

The SRA won’t be telling firms and solicitors how to prove that they are reflecting and learning. That is your responsibility.

I can understand this is very frustrating for firms and solicitors, however as a training provider, MASS Training supports  delegates having the freedom and flexibility to identify and determine their own training and development needs, and we have the framework in which to provide this.

It is a well-known fact that learning by doing is the most effective way to retain knowledge. Our courses engage the delegates through the use of case studies and practical discussion groups, so they are able to put into practice what they have learnt immediately.

MASS Training will endeavour to continue providing the right legal training to meet firms and individual needs, whilst keeping the SRA – Competency in mind.

Philip Coupland

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