Time to hit the books for solicitors who did not do their CPD hours?

Time to hit the books for solicitors who did not do their CPD hours?

An online poll of 900 solicitors by the Law Society has revealed that 15% failed to do 16 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) last year – the minimum required.

The poll, carried out earlier this year, also showed that 17% of solicitors were already using the hours-free ‘continuing competence’ system introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on 1 April this year. The existing regime will be phased out by 1 November 2016.

While 31% of solicitors said they did not know when they would be moving to the new scheme, 19% said they would be switching in six months, 15% in the next 12 months and 18% on the final day next year.

Despite the change, a large majority of solicitors (74%) predicted that they would be doing the same amount of CPD hours as before.

Almost half of the solicitors who responded to the poll, 45%, said they undertook 17-25 hours of CPD last year, with 19% doing exactly 16 hours – 2% said they did not know how much CPD they did.

In terms of knowledge of the new scheme, 44% described themselves as “unconfident”, with only 23% confident in their understanding.

More than half of the respondents’ firms (57%) had not made provisions to help with completing the annual declaration of competence solicitors will be required to make on the practising certificate applications.

Firms wanting to move to the new system straight away are not required to inform the SRA, so no precise figures are available.

The SRA said in April this year that it believed over 200 law firms of all sizes had opted into the new regime.

Richard Williams, policy associate at the SRA, said then that a quarter of 950 firms which registered for a webinar held by the regulator a few days after the introduction of the new regime said they would be adopting it.

“A broad spectrum of firms have told us they are doing it, from top 100 firms all the way down to sole practices. There may well be cost savings, but I don’t think that is the main driver.”

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    Readers Comments

  • Brian Rogers says:

    I suspect that the level of non-compliance with the CPD requirements will not come as a surprise to most, and is why many believe that the new competency regime will go the same way without proper policing by the SRA!

    There are good business reasons for ensuring all staff are appropriately trained, and many firms recognise this, which is why they have adopted the new competency regime early, but there are some that will be waiting for the SRA to take action before taking it seriously.

    What the 15% of solicitors and their COLPs may not realise is that by formally declaring on PC renewals that CPD levels have been achieved when in fact they have not, they have potentially breached a number of Principles:

    Act with integrity – they have misled the SRA

    Act in the best interests of clients – the solicitor may not be adequately trained to do this

    Provide a proper standard of service to clients – the lack of appropriate training may mean the solicitor is not able to achieve this

    With the SRA intent on making sure the new competency regime works, I would not be surprised if it acts on the report and asks firms to prove how they and their solicitors are complying with the CPD requirements!

    Effective CPD should be seen as a key business tool, not just a tick box exercise or something you do just because the rules say you should do it!


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