The Solicitors Regulation Authority still lacks understanding of the in-house sector compared with private practice, in-house solicitors suggest in a study published this week.
The Commerce & Industry Group surveyed members to determine whether and how forthcoming changes to continuing professional development would affect the training needs of in-house lawyers.
From November 2016 solicitors will no longer have to undergo the mandatory 16-hour CPD requirement and will instead have to sign an annual declaration pledging their commitment to CPD. The SRA intends to issue a ‘toolkit’ to support a ‘culture change’ to the new approach.
However, 82% respondents expressed doubts about the toolkit’s relevance, saying that an in-house toolkit would be helpful as ‘the SRA focuses very much on private practice still’.
Sarah Sheehan, C&I Group training programme developer, said: ‘One of the areas where much comment was received was around the fact that … there was little (if anything) of specific reference to the in-house community. The emphasis throughout has been almost entirely on “firms”.
‘Since in-house legal departments operate rather differently from private practice firms there was, and continues to be, concern as to how the new regime would operate in this in-house context.’
Julie Brannan, SRA director of education and training, said: ‘Our focus is on individual solicitors, those working in both private practice and in-house. However, the toolkit will be of interest to both types of employers too, and is being drafted on that basis.
‘We are discussing the contents of the toolkit with both solicitors from private practice and in-house to get their input to make sure it is relevant to both groups.’