Overview of the Legal Sector
With changes to regulations and legislation, fast moving working environments and ongoing improvements to best practice, it will always be important for professionals working in the legal sector to maintain a structured approach to Continuing Professional Development. CPD is highly developed across the legal sector for all levels of law-related roles.
The practice of CPD provides reassurance that law professionals are maintaining competencies, and are further enhancing their skills and knowledge. CPD is not just restricted to technical advancements such as legislation changes, but also embraces areas of personal development such as essential management skills, general business training and client customer services.
CPD in the Legal Sector
Individuals working in the legal sector are encouraged to take full responsibility for their own Continuing Professional Development by choosing from a wide range of CPD activities that can be pursued in order to meet the annual CPD requirement.
CPD for Solicitors
Since 1985, the Solicitors Regulation Authority have operated a compulsory Continuing Professional Development scheme for solicitors in the UK. Over the years, the solicitor CPD scheme has evolved into a system guided by simple principles of flexibility and practical development.
CPD Requirements for Solicitors – All solicitors and registered European lawyers (RELs) who are in legal practice or employment in England and Wales, and work 32 hours or more per week are required to complete a minimum of 16 hours of CPD per year; at least 25 per cent must consist of participation in accredited training courses. For solicitors and RELs who work fewer than 32 hours per week, the requirements are reduced. The CPD scheme is compulsory for solicitors. Non-compliance can lead to disciplinary procedures and/or to delays in the issue of a practising certificate. Solicitors must keep a record of all CPD training undertaken, and may be asked to provide a copy of their record to the Solicitors Regulation Authority from time to time. This is stipulated by Part 5 of the SRA Training Regulations 2011 – CPD Regulations.
CPD for Barristers
All practising barristers are required to complete Continuing Professional Development. CPD for barristers is captured in CPD hours. Barristers are required to complete CPD record cards and return these to the Bar Standards Board annually.
CPD Requirements for Barristers – Failure to complete the required number of CPD hours for barristers can result in a finding of misconduct. Newly qualified barristers are required to complete 45 hours of CPD learning in their first 3 years, followed by 12 hours of structured CPD each year thereafter. The Bar Standards Board established a working group to review CPD for barristers and began a consultation process in its report in June 2011. Further details can be found on the Bar Standards Board website.
CPD is mandatory for barristers, and all practising members of the Bar are subject to Continuing Professional Development regulations. Compliance is an obligation of the Code of Conduct (para. 202b). Newly qualified barristers should complete CPD hours in advocacy training as well as ethics (the New Practitioners’ Programme).
CPD for Paralegals
In 2005 the Institute of Paralegals implemented a mandatory CPD training scheme. Paralegals are required to complete a number of CPD learning hours every year to comply.
CPD Requirements for Paralegals – Compliance with paralegal CPD is a condition of membership for individual members. The requirement is to accumulate 12 CPD training hours each year. The requirement is reduced on a pro-rata basis for those joining part-way through a CPD year, those on maternity leave and the long term ill. Failure to meet paralegal CPD requirements can result in membership being cancelled.
CPD for Legal Executives
The CPD year runs by calendar year of which Fellows and Associate Prosecutors are required to complete a minimum of 16 CPD hours, Graduate members are required to complete a minimum of 12 CPD hours and Associate members are required to complete a minimum of 8 CPD hours.
Additional CPD cannot be carried over to the following year. CPD requirements for legal executives have changed, and in 2014 legal executives were required to complete an additional professionalism element. Legal executives are now required to undertake the professionalism element alongside their hours based CPD requirements. The professionalism element will not be measured in hours but rather in terms of outcomes.
CPD for Conveyancers
A licensed conveyancer must complete a minimum of 12 hours CPD in recognised courses in each licence year in which they hold a full licence. The licence year runs from 1 November to the following 31 October. This requirement shall prevail where a full licence takes effect immediately upon the expiration of a limited licence.
- Solicitors Regulation Authority
- Bar Standards Board
- The Bar Council
- Institute of Paralegals
- Council for Licenced Conveyancers (CLC)
- Institute of Legal Executives
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