The annual requirement for 16 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) should not be extended and could even be lowered, according to a report commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The Nottingham Law School study also says law firms should have to contribute to the cost of their employees’ CPD and be allowed to offer their own schemes if they can demonstrate effectiveness.

The research findings will feed in to the legal regulators’ Legal Education and Training Review. Researchers found the biggest barriers to effective CPD were cost, time, relevance and location.

Some accredited external provision was considered to be of poor quality and the report heard evidence that attendance at conferences was the least effective way of improving skills. Some participants perceived accreditation as a means to generate income for the SRA and enable course providers to charge higher fees.

The report recommends that the SRA drops the requirement for a proportion of CPD to be accredited and that regulators set rules to fit individual needs rather than ‘one size fits all’.