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Is the CPD hour ‘dead and buried’?

  • Datalaw Admin
  • Apr 5, 2017
  • 0 comment(s)

One of the main criticisms of the current CPD scheme is that its focus is on how many CPD hours solicitors spend in formal training courses as opposed to what solicitors have learnt as a result of the training which they have undertaken. Consequently, CPD is often, and somewhat unfavourably, compared to a tick-box exercise which serves no real purpose or certainly none of value.

In order to combat this, the SRA’s new approach to CPD which focuses on continuing competence and emphasises the need for solicitors to meet a series of standards, as outlined within their Competence Statement, as opposed to the need to accumulate a minimum number of CPD hours every year. However that is not to say that CPD hours will no longer be required. The SRA have simply removed the stipulation that an arbitrary number of CPD hours will be required.

By adhering to the SRA’s new scheme, solicitors must reflect on their ability to practice competently. Solicitors will need to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and are encouraged to address any needs which they identify within a timely fashion. Given that solicitors must source training appropriate to their needs, it stands to reason that solicitors will continue to choose to undertake ‘formal’ CPD training in many instances.

Many site the SRA’s decision to cease accrediting CPD hours as confirmation that the concept of the CPD hour is ‘dead and buried’ however we at Datalaw do not believe this to be the case.

There have always been numerous ways in which solicitors can meet their CPD requirements outside of formal organised training which include coaching or mentoring sessions, writing on law or practice published in print or on-line, structured work shadowing schemes and studying towards professional qualifications. The only real restriction was that a solicitor must prove that the activity undertaken was relevant and beneficial to their area of work and/or practice, which seems very similar to the flexibility and freedom of choice offered by the SRA’s new approach.

The term CPD hours or CPD points is an easy way for practitioners and training providers to describe and quantify the amount of training which has been undertaken or delivered. A lot has been made of CPD hours not equating to a corresponding amount of learning and this has led many to feel short-changed by training providers. For example attending a 6 hour course provides 6 CPD hours, however that does not necessarily mean that the practitioner has achieved 6 CPD hours of learning. While this may be true, ultimately practitioners will always ‘get what they put in’ in respect of the training which they complete whether this means undertaking 16 or 60 CPD hours a year. In addition, many practitioners will still desire a tangible way in which to document and report the training they have completed and the concept of CPD hours provides this.

CPD has come a long way since the era of the venue training where delegates chose courses based on the quality of the lunch on offer and deliberated over how early they could feasibly leave. One of the most significant factors affecting CPD in recent years has been the influence of technology; not only has this changed both the way firms’ practise, it has also changed the way people learn. The increased popularity and greater availability of online CPD has revolutionised the legal training market and CPD must continue to adapt if it is to remain relevant.


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