Either way CPD should never be overlooked and the legal sector is always changing. It is your responsibility
as a professional to direct your own development and stay ahead in order to advance your career. Learning never stops, it is a continuing cycle.
Continuing Professional Development is just as important for your future career potential as passing exams were in your earlier years. To ensure that you learn new skills for roles which come with more responsibility as well as in order to stay up to date with changing economic and social circumstances.
Within legal learning and development, there is an amount of cynicism about lawyers’ CPD. It is seen as both a carrot to encourage reluctant lawyers to come along to development sessions, and also as a stick to beat them with if they fail to show up. Recent announcements and proposals by the SRA to change the way in which CPD is regulated have only served to heighten confusion, as firms – large and small- struggle to compete for their lawyers’ time against the overwhelming importance of client demands and billable work hours.
As a qualified and regulated legal professional, you will be subject to a CPD regime determined by your legal regulatory authority. You must comply with it to remain qualified. Your organisation should make it a condition of your employment and provide the budget and resources for the training necessary to fulfil that need. By doing so, they are showing that they have a vested interest in your career and appreciate the value of sound, relevant and up-to-date legal advice.
Even if you are not required to follow a CPD scheme, it is still very useful to commit time to CPD as it will help you to:
- Manage your own development on a continuing basis.
- Maintain your competence throughout your legal career.
- Keep up-to-date with new technologies and thinking in the legal sector.
- Provide the best possible level of service to the organisations you work for and clients that you serve.
Note that once you become a qualified legal practitioner, it is difficult to become non-regulated.
The purpose of CPD
Professionally, CPD will ensure you reflect, review and document your learning and also develop and update your knowledge and skills. From a personal perspective, it can:
- Provide an overview of your development in the legal sector so far.
- Act as a reminder of your achievements and the extent of your progress.
- The above will help give you greater confidence and encouragement towards your own goals.
- Direct your career and help you focus on areas of expertise, differentiating yourself from coworkers and other legal professionals.
- Highlight gaps in your skills and capabilities.
- Provide examples and scenarios for your CV or job interviews, this in particular is made simple with the Leap CPD Hub acting as a record of your development so that all you need to do is transfer information using the application.
- Demonstrate your value to your in-house clients and stakeholders.
- Help you to develop or even change your career by making you think about your goals and pathway.
Differences between the nature of ‘training’ and ‘development’
The terms training and development are frequently used interchangeably but are in fact quite distinct. Training is generally more formal and often linear in nature. Development tends to start afterwards. It is less formal, less uniform and is primarily your own responsibility. Therefore the paths you take and the combinations of activities you attend are unique to you.
Development can help you progress to more advanced and complex understandings in your specific area and may also strengthen your transferable skills, such as:
- Leadership, Including thought leadership.
- Legal Project management.
- Financial insights.
- Personal awareness and interpersonal skills.
- People management and development.
- Organisational change.
Once your training is complete and you are a qualified legal practitioner, your subsequent development will probably be more informal and unstructured. Of course, this does not rule out further formal training, such as in new areas of law required by a particular employer. Development will enhance your capability and competency and give you the tools to improve the services that you provide to and within your organisation.
In response to the recent change by the SRA mandating that solicitors MUST record their CPD we are conducting research with a number of law firms to understand its impact and how they capture and manage their CPD as a result. We will soon publish our white paper on this study. Should you like a copy, please contact us.
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