In its new competency based CPD regime the SRA expects solicitors to reflect, plan, take action on learning needs, keep a record and finally evaluate their learning – the learning cycle model. For many solicitors this will be a big change to their normal approach to CPD and they will need guidance and support on how to do it.

Some solicitors will be more used to reflecting on and being proactive in their own training activities, but even then may struggle with identifying learning needs or may have blind spots towards certain knowledge areas and especially personal skills. They should, therefore, look to their line manager and their organisation for guidance as to whether they are compliant with the SRA competence statement.

What then does your law firm or organisation need to do to ensure compliance? Assuming a full review and mapping exercise of existing firm systems against the new competency framework has been undertaken, our view is that successful implementation will have to be underpinned by two key areas:

  • Performance management (appraisal) systems
  • Quality of supervision – to be considered in Part 2 of this blog

Most performance management systems will include an annual review with a recorded outcome (appraisal form or on-line system). This will look at performance over the last year, objectives and targets for the year ahead and longer term career planning. Each of these areas should identify learning needs, which can then feed into the SRA continuing competence process.

A good performance management system should also include regular reviews of a more informal nature between the individual and their line manager. This should ensure that objectives and targets are being achieved and that learning needs are being addressed on an on-going basis.

The questions to consider are:

  • Is there an effective performance management system in place?
  • If so, is it being followed? A great process with only 20% completion is of little benefit.
  • Are learning needs being identified by the process? In my experience, many appraisals contain few, or even nil, identified learning needs – little use then in a continuing competence context.
  • Is there follow up between annual reviews providing further guidance and support?

We can see from this that any performance management system will only be as good as the quality of the line managers driving it and feeding back to their individual team members through an on-going proactive review process. We see this whole area as a key development area.

Pegasus Professional Development has the expertise to assist with reviewing and developing your performance management system as well as supporting the introduction of the new SRA CPD competency based regime.

Kevin Chard

Tel: 01264 361127

Mob: 07741 479791


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