Online legal training company Datalaw has secured a six-figure investment from a northern venture capital fund and promised to quadruple the number of its continuous professional development (CPD) courses over the next 12 months.
Charles Peter, managing director of Datalaw, told Legal Futures that the money would also be used to launch a new training platform for solicitors, timed to coincide with the start of the new CPD regime in April next year.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has said that from April 2015, law firms will be able to opt in to the new regime, leaving behind the old, hours-based system and assessing their training against a new competence statement for solicitors.
Datalaw’s new investment is from the North West Fund for Venture Capital, which will take a minority stake in the training provider, based in Liverpool.
The fund is part of the North West Fund, financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.
“The SRA has suggested the tick-box approach is not appropriate, and is moving to a different method of competence assessment,” Mr Peter said. “With the new investment, we are creating a training platform from which we will hopefully make the lives of solicitors much easier.”
Mr Peter said the platform would allow solicitors to “write down the expected outcomes they need to focus on” and “measure, as they go along, how they’re getting on”.
He said he anticipated a “much bigger demand” for Datalaw’s services once the new CPD regime was in place. “Everything can be done online,” Mr Peter said. “At the moment what we’re offering is high street, legal aid-type learning,” he said.
“We want to offer the larger type of firm that does corporate law a better range of courses, on topics like corporate finance, commercial litigation and agriculture.”
Mr Peter said Datalaw was also considering expanding its services to include legal recruitment. “If your website is a nice place for solicitors to go, it might be a nice fit with recruitment,” he added.
“I see this change as a wonderful opportunity for everybody to save money and get their training done online,” Mr Peter said. However, he added: “You can’t help getting the feeling from some solicitors that they like to do things the way they’ve always done them.”