What is Continuous Professional Development (CPD)?

CPD obligations are common to most professions. It is a structured approach to learning and refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that a professional gains, both formally and informally, as they work beyond the ambit of any initial training.

It’s a record of what the professional experiences, learns and then applies.

However, the current minimum 16 ‘tick box’ mandatory hours CPD regime will disappear on 31 Oct 2016 to be replaced by a tracking and evidencing regime – Continuous Competence.

Continuous Competence – the 1 Nov 2016 changes

All partners and solicitors will now be required to:

  • Reflect on the quality of their practice by reference to the Statement of Solicitor Competence:
  • Address any identified learning and development needs;
  • Record all steps taken to meet those needs within their Development Plan & Record; and
  • Make an Annual Declaration that they have taken the above steps.

This new system represents a more reflective, directed and proactive learning process. It is looking for outcomes i.e. knowledge or skills gained to meet a learning and development need or objective as well as a level of competence rather than just completing a time-based target.

This will require independent judgments to be made about the learning and development needs and requirements for each solicitor so that they can maintain and develop their professional competence.   This will require the full support of appraisers.

The COLP will also be required to take an overview position in order to evaluate and sign off the competency of each partner and solicitor to undertake their role.

How to get the maximum business benefit from the changes?

There are some key steps that can still be undertaken to maximise the business potential:

1. Check that your Firm’s Learning and Development Plan (L & D Plan) fully integrates with and supports the Firm’s Business Plan and Objectives.

2. Check that the L & D Plan fully supports and is compliant with the new SRA Continuous Competency regime.

3. Evaluate the benefit of any training and development activities undertaken – i.e. clear objectives; an appropriate review/reflective process and a process to disseminate that learning across individuals, teams and departments.

4. Concentrate on all 4 areas set out in the SRA Competency Statement but do not let ‘black letter’ law training slip.

5.Review regularly and integrate Continuous Competence into your Performance Review / Appraisal Processes.

Meeting the requirements of the Continuous Competence regime – a quick guide

Changes in a nutshell

  • Hours based CPD ends 1st November
  • Requirement to reflect and identify development needs
  • Based around new and detailed competence statement
  • Annual declaration of competence

What really has changed?

  • Solicitors still need to be competent!
  • Planned development replaces activity target
  • Training outcomes rather then training needs
  • Increased emphasis on supervision

Competence Statement

  • EITHER map against current competency framework
  • OR adopt as minimum required standard
  • Incorporate in performance management system
  • Do current development programmes cover the breadth of the Competence Statement?

Training plans

  • Planned development by individual (required outcome and how to be achieved)
  • Record of activity, review and reflection
  • Different approach, some will struggle
  • Guidance will be required on areas for development
  • Recommend provision of guidance on new concepts

Performance management system

  • Needs to be one, with good completion rates
  • Needs to monitor competence and identify training needs
  • Skills of the appraiser / reviewer key to effectiveness
  • Guidance for both appraisers and appraisees

Supervision standards

  • Performance management a continuous process
  • Trend in compliance and the CPD changes
  • Managing people a big development topic?


Pegasus Support

The Pegasus team have already been working extensively with clients in setting up systems and procedures to ensure not only compliance with the new regime but to gain maximum advantage for individuals and teams.

Please Contact us to discuss any needs or questions that you might have in regard to your Continuous Competency need.