On 23rd November 2016, Jane Jarman and Jane Ching led a session with members of Nottinghamshire Law Society to think about the implications. SRA regulations, in fact, involve an obligation under outcome 7.6, to “train individuals working in the firm to maintain a level of competence appropriate to their work and level of responsibility”, which predates the change to the CPD rules. Similarly, the SRA Authorisation Rules demand that firms have suitable arrangements for supporting the development and training of all staff, solicitors or not.
We worked from the Statement of Solicitor Competence, which sets out the range of knowledge, skills and attributes expected of a newly qualified solicitor, at a level of performance set out in the accompanying threshold statement (and currently assessed in the QLTS). Learning activities can be mapped to this, and the competences contextualised to the work of the firm, as well as mapped to existing competence frameworks. For staff other than NQ solicitors, the levels might need to be higher or lower, and the range of activities adjusted to, for example, acknowledge that management and marketing form part of the competences of a more senior lawyer. To some extent the competence statement also incorporates capability, which goes beyond being competent what I am currently doing, but encourages me to be flexible and able to adapt to new areas of work and new roles in the future. What is critical in the change from “CPD”, which focuses on educational activities, to “continuing competence”, which emphasises what has been learned and how that improves the service to clients, is following through. Firms and individuals need to collect data that shows planning, educational activity and how that activity has led to improved practice. That data might be collected through time codes, appraisals, file reviews and evaluation sheets for courses that go beyond simple “satisfaction”. It is this data that then serves to demonstrate compliance with the SRA’s requirements
The Centre for Legal Education has something of a track record in researching into CPD, including Pamela Henderson, Jane Jarman and John Hodgson’s work on the SRA’s review of the whole system in 2012.