SRA chief promises “a bonfire” of unnecessary regulations in legal education & training

The Westminster Forum on the LETR ended today with Antony Townsend CEO of the SRA declaring an imminent “bonfire” of regulations on legal education & training.  He promised to strip away regulations which inhibit access to the professions, including abolishing the requirement to issue a Certificate of Completion of the academic stage of training.

After a morning of speeches and discussions about the need for change, the audience was delighted by promises of real action from the SRA.  Three headlines were announced:

  1. An end to “one-size fits all” education and training.  A range of paths into the professions are to be encouraged based on the skills & knowledge that employers require.
  2. The tick box approach to cpd “will go”, to be replaced by a strategy for continuing competence.
  3. A  “bonfire” of unnecessary regulation was enthusiastically predicted.

Townsend kindled a blast of energy at the conclusion of the event.  Some aspects of legal education, he said, are just “not good enough”.  One factor took the edge off the force his address; decisions will follow a period of consultation and will be finalised “late next year”.  However, given the tone and force of the announcements the intention is clearly that sparks will fly.

Appearing on the same platform as Simon Thornton-Wood from the BSB, Townsend declared that the two regulators are working closely together to address change following LETR recommendations.  Challenged from the floor to generate plans together, rather than comparing notes retrospectively, the two insisted that they are working in partnership.  “Our destination is the same,” Thornton-Wood insisted, “and our methods of arriving there need to converge”.

NJ at LETR     Nicola contributing to the LETR Symposium, July 2012

The LETR Report was met with some ambivalence when it was published in June.  The most prevalent criticism being that it should have been bolder in its recommendations.  My view has always been that the professions would have reacted badly to being told what to do.  The LETR has done its job: it has forced the regulators to act.  Now the legal professions must use education and training to create an agile, motivated workforce which can deliver excellent service and protect the rule of law.

If you would like to talk about the LETR, about learning & development strategy or any other L&D matter please email on or call 07799 237479




The LETR final report has been published.  You can access it at  Para 6.95 on page 253 gives a good summary of some of the discussion on cpd.

Its a biggy!  371 pages.  Interestingly the document uses the abbreviation LSET, “Legal Services Education & Training”.  A flexible term for flexible times!

Here are some of the key messages about cpd and re-accreditation:

1.  The case for a re-accreditation as a pre-requisite for on-going practice in the legal professions has been rejected as “not proven” at the current time.  Although it makes the point that re-accreditation has led to higher quality care in the medical professions, it concedes that it would be too onerous for some, most obviously sole practitioners.  (See 4 below.)  An improved cpd scheme is preferred.


2.  Continuing professional development needs to be reformed.  The legal sector is behind other professions in terms of best practice.  There needs to be a move away from cpd as a purely a way of accruing knowledge; it needs to be about reflection and skills too in order to develop effective practice.  A “cyclical” approach of planning, implementation and reflection needs to be the norm (para 6.95).


3.  Core subjects “need” to be offered via cpd including equality & diversity training, ethics & governance and management skills.  Regulators need to set out a plan for “assuring competence & ethical conduct of legal practitioners in a rapidly changing legal market”.


4.  Accreditation of specialist areas of practice should be improved and should form part of a reformed approach to cpd.


5.  Cpd should be liberalised to recognise “intentional, meaningful learning”.  This should include learning in the work place, but this would need to be evidenced and should go alongside an accredited hours system.


6.  Entity-based regulation of cpd is favoured (activity-based regulation is not).  An outcomes focussed approach is advocated; firms should be in a position to demonstrate that learning is being used to achieve set goals, e.g. in equality and diversity.


7.  Regulators should provide online reporting services for cpd plans and learning logs.


To discuss the implications of the LETR for your business or any other professional development matter call Nicola on 07799 237479 or email


Athena Professional; using professional development to help businesses realise the value of people

The case for joined up L&D strategy is clearly made out

The case for joined up L&D strategy is clearly made out in the LETR final report.

The value of cpd

The Legal Education & Training Review report recognises the need for cpd to provide “intentional, meaningful learning”, not merely a points or hours-based system which is open to abuse.  Clearly it is in the interest of practices to know how their regulated staff are using their cpd and to ensure it dovetails with business need.  These are the sorts of things that get those expensive business plans implemented.  If you have not got an joined up L&D strategy I’d be happy to help.

Good learning practices serve business

The lessons learned from the Work Based Learning (“WBL”) pilot trainee programme are well made; ultimately participants found they had achieved higher levels of learning and were better able to evidence their achievements than their colleagues with traditional traineeships.  Seasoned practitioners would do well to think-on about this.  The skills involved in making WBL work will serve your business; it supports collaborative working, communication, cross-selling… all that good stuff that needs a bit of planning and some confidence in order to gain momentum .

Learning “every day”

The use of WBL is endorsed and its relevance post-qualification is highlighted.  Clearly, when legal professionals learn at their desks every day, there should be mechanisms for capturing and formalising that learning.  I have done a lot of work on WBL, so if you want to talk about this, L&D strategy or any other professional development matter, do call me on 07799 237479 or email

Athena Professional helps business realise the value of their people.