Ethics training could become a compulsory element of solicitors’ continuing professional development (CPD) as part of a fundamental review to be conducted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Legal Futures has learned.
The CPD review – described by the SRA as “overdue” – will look to ensure that CPD “works in the new world of alternative business structures and outcome-focused regulation”.
It will look at the most common issues the SRA’s ethics helpline deals with, and current ethics training by CPD providers and by firms, including the level of attendance on courses.
The first stage of the review, which is still being scoped out, will also look at what management training is required for solicitors. It will then consider when management and ethical training would be best delivered and what format it should take “in order to create and maintain ethical and competent solicitors”.
The SRA has met with Professor Andrew Boon of Westminster University to discuss what research is required in relation to legal ethics training. Professor Boon recently completed a report for the Law Society on putting ethics at the heart of the law degree.
The review is working to a tight timetable as there are plans to pilot any new CPD requirements in October. It will also have to take into account any findings emerging from the 2020 review of legal education being carried out jointly by the SRA, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards over the next two years.
The primary objective of the CPD review will be to create a new scheme that:
- properly assists in maintaining and enhancing the competence, performance and ethical conduct of solicitors;
- is proportionate, targeted and based upon the principles of outcome-focused regulation;
- “truly assist solicitors to progress their careers and remain competent”; and
- is properly monitored and enforced.
The review will be overseen by the SRA’s education and training committee, to which the SRA announced yesterday five new external members have been appointed: Damian Day, head of education and quality assurance at the General Pharmaceutical Council; Chitra Karvé, director of performance and development at the Parole Board; Louise Meikle, head of HR and training at City law firm Slaughter and May; Sheree Peaple, head of Leicester De Montfort Law School; and Steven Vaughan, a lecturer at Cardiff Law School.