Learners present at one CPD-accredited course may recall the barrister who quipped that it was nice to see the room full in an age when one could accrue points by watching a video of Bianca Jagger (pictured) giving a speech.
Perhaps he spoke in jest. But the disconnect between the content of courses a solicitor might attend to meet the required hours, and the knowledge that would actually aid their professional development, is a longstanding in-joke.
Enter a new regime. From next year, solicitors will need to take responsibility for their development, using their own judgement when making an annual declaration of competence. Indeed, they may choose to do this early.
The predicted ‘bloodbath’ of training companies has not materialised, which augurs well. But a significant minority of solicitors have yet to focus on what is needed. It is alarming that almost a third do not know when they will move to the new regime, and 44% are ‘unconfident’ about it. There are fears that firms with tight budgets will cut commitments to what will now be perceived as discretionary spending.
The aim is to require intelligent thought from professionals by removing ‘tick-boxes’. That makes sense – but it is now urgent for all solicitors to focus on this task. The absence of compulsion is not an invitation to inertia.