An SRA report last week found that continuing professional development is well-embedded across the profession and takes many forms. This was interpreted by the regulator as demonstrating the value of ‘less formal’ approaches to learning and cited in support of its abolition of the mandatory 16 hours’ minimum.
Of course, one could argue the opposite – that an element of compulsion helps to focus the minds of law firm owners and managers on how best they can – and must – support the learning needs of lawyers.
Few would argue that the system is in need of reform: but it remains to be seen whether the regulator succeeds in its desire to eliminate ‘box-ticking’.
As we report in our CPD supplement, some fear that one bureaucracy will simply be displaced by another. A virtue of the present system is its simplicity, as one solicitor notes: ‘I fear we are now going to be saddled with an outcome for everyone’s training, a policy on how we will achieve that outcome and a quarterly review of the policy’.
Much depends on how deftly the SRA polices the new regime. If it fails to do so adequately, there is a danger that some firms will simply drop CPD altogether, as former Law Society president Paul Marsh has warned.
That would be a poor ‘outcome’ indeed.