It’s time for some CPD!

8123525335_78c5081e50_mToday at Stowe Family Law office in Harrogate we are hosting a CPD talk on Costs brought to us by Ian Cosgrove. And so I thought it an apt time to talk about the CPD scheme, because as would be lawyers it is vital that we know what is ahead of us.

As a solicitor, and a barrister, you will be required to gain a number of CPD points per year whilst practicing. CPD stands for Continued Professional Development, the scheme was set up in 1985. The scheme encourages solicitors to take responsibility for their own professional development by choosing from the wide range of activities that can be pursued in order to meet the yearly CPD requirement. The SRA, Solicitors Regulation Authority, states that ‘All solicitors and registered European lawyers (RELs) who

  • are in legal practice or employment in England and Wales, and
  • work 32 hours or more per week

are required to complete a minimum of 16 hours of CPD per year; at least 25 per cent must consist of participation in accredited training courses.’

This is enforced by SRA Training Regulations 2011 Part 3 – CPD Regulations. Regulation 2.2 states ‘All solicitors and RELs are required to undertake CPD. Non-compliance could lead to disciplinary procedures and/or delays in the issue of your practising certificate.’  Regulation 3.2 goes on to say that if you work part time the required hours will be reduced accordingly.

CPD courses can cover a range of subjects, such as Accounts and Finance, Administrative and Public Law, Advocacy, Agricultural Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Banking Law, Civil Litigation, Client Care, Costs, Courts and Tribunals, Education Law, Family Law, Highways, Investment, Legal aid, Police Station Accreditation, Welfare Benefits, and many more. The SRA have a helpful online tool that allows you to find an accredited CPD provider who is covering a specific topic: http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/cpd/find-cpd-providers.page. Whilst the Law Society provides a CPD directory: http://cpdcentre.lawsociety.org.uk/course.

Whilst the idea is that the CPD scheme results in lawyers with sufficient training, who keep abreast of current legal issues (something every lawyer should arguably be doing any way), and are thus better practitioners. However, not everyone agrees with this approach, arguing that the one-size fits all model of CPD is not an appropriate way of dealing with continued training. The argument is that every individuals personal development needs are unique and the law is in a continual state of flux so one-size doesn’t fit all. Stephen Mayson makes some good points in his article entitled ‘CPD: compliance, competence or development?’ which can be found here: http://stephenmayson.com/2011/05/27/cpd-compliance-competence-or-development/

I, as a trainee am not currently required to take part in CPD talks, if only because my professional development is far from stagnant: I am participating in on the job, hands on training, whilst also completing my PSC courses. But I am allowed to attend and I relish in the opportunity to learn something new and increase my understanding of the law. It may be that one-size doesn’t fit all, but for now one-size is definitely better than nothing at all.

Photo by YODspica via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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