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The SRA and Continuing Competence

It has now been two years since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) replaced the old CPD-style points system with the new concept of ‘continuing competence’.

Given the length of time that has passed, most law firms and solicitors have already got to grips with the new system. But for those who are just entering the profession, or who have returned to the profession from career hiatus, here is a brief rundown of what you need to know.

What is continuing competence?

Since 1 November 2016, all solicitors practicing in England and Wales must comply with the SRA’s systemThe SRA and Continuing Competence of continuing competence. This requires a solicitor to consider his or her learning needs, to take action to address these needs, and to report them on a yearly basis to the SRA.

The idea of continuing competence replaces the notion of continuing professional development (CPD), where solicitors had to complete a certain number of hours of training each year to comply with the SRA’s requirements.

The change arose because some solicitors reported they were attending training courses just to accrue the right number of CPD points, rather than because it was relevant to their job. The SRA wanted to rectify this issue, and so developed a new system that enables solicitors to better target their learning.

What does continuing competence involve?

In order to comply with continuing competence, you must –

  1. Reflect on your practice and consider what areas could be enhanced with further learning
  2. Plan how to address your learning needs, perhaps through legal training courses, webinars, reading, research, mentoring, shadowing or other learning activities
  3. Complete the plan that you have set yourself
  4. Evaluate how the learning activities you have carried out have addressed your needs and how these will affect your day-to-day practice as a solicitor
  5. Record the learning needs you identified, the steps you took to address these needs, and the impact it has had on you
  6. Declare all the above to the SRA on an annual basis, or have someone in your firm declare it on your behalf

Therefore, unlike CPD, you do not have to complete a set number of hours or tally up a certain number of points. Rather, it is up to you to identify your own learning needs, and to carry out as many learning activities to satisfy these needs as you deem necessary.

However, you must adhere to principle 5 of the SRA Handbook which states that you are responsible for providing a proper standard of service to your clients. Therefore, you must maintain your competence to practice law, and you must demonstrate this to the SRA.

Can I still attend legal training courses?

Yes! There are now many ways you can address your learning needs, but webinars and legal training courses are still favoured by most solicitors. Course providers are no longer accredited by the SRA, so it is best to verify the quality of the training provided by an organisation before signing up.

Contact us

We have been providing legal training courses across England, Wales and Scotland for the past 20 years, so we are well-versed in the SRA’s rules and how to meet them. We can help you understand your responsibilities in relation to continuing competence, and can suggest which webinars and legal training courses would best meet your learning needs.

To contact us, simply call us on 0117 9259612 or complete our free online enquiry form and we will be in touch.

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