Bang goes the tick-box boys; SRA Consultation on reform of cpd announced

The cpd hour is dead (we hope): long live learning!

The SRA has today published plans to reform the regulation of cpd.  In a consultation paper they propose;

  • the end of the minimum hours approach,
  • no more annual returns on cpd, and
  • the end of SRA accreditation for cpd providers

Cpd would become a matter for over all compliance with requirements to show that individuals are competent to deliver legal services and that staff are being trained and supervised.

Different kinds of straitjacket

A couple of alternatives are suggested:

  • prescription of process – a different set of tick boxes to show that “reflection” and development have happened.
  • a minimum hours + inclusion of new ways of learning, inc. on-the-job learning

I presume these are being offered in case it is felt that professional people really cannot be trusted/bothered to take responsibility for their own learning.  Anyone who thinks its a good idea to tick a box to say you have “done” some reflecting, needs to think again.  When I think about it, ticking a box is the antithesis of reflection (L&D joke I just made up).

The Opportunity

A lot of law firms have got big, expensive strategies and very little idea of what to do to implement them.  Values, culture, employee engagement, they are all important.  But learning is where its really at.  If people are not minded to learn, they are not minded to change.  Here are three questions to get started:

Q1 What does “competent” look like?

Lawyers need to get over the idea that competencies are reductive.  Being able to articulate what a good lawyer actually does in order to be good in respect of a number of key areas is a common sense approach.  It helps set expectation, makes performance management meaningful and liberates people to find their own way to competence.

Q2  What learning needs to happen?

There is a chance now for individual lawyers and their organisations to consider what learning really needs to happen.  What does the business need people to be able to do?  What competencies are weak in individuals and in the organisation as a whole?

Q3  How is the learning best delivered?

Face-to-face learning is not necessarily the way forward.  Lawyers need to learn to share ideas and develop knowledge with their colleagues, possibly with their clients.  Social network learning has a huge amount to offer the legal sector.  Oh, and by the way, coaching is the best way to enhance performance.

Pin them down

Pin learning to business goals.  Aren’t you sick of having an expensive business development plan nobody knows about?  Here’s a way of pinning people down to demonstrable behaviours which fit with your plan.  Simples.

Dull is dead!!!

Attending updates sessions in person may have other, social & networking benefits, but in the age of the search engine its really not necessary.  I walked out of the last law update course I went to.  It was appalling.  The photo of the presenter’s dog was no substitute for learning.

Bring on the new shiny things

Here are three tools on which a firm could build an effective personal/professional development plan:

  • Lumina psychometrics – for self-awareness and awareness of impact on others + other skills development steps including team-work, communication, client service & sales
  • 360appraisalforlawyers – feedback from colleagues about competence – a great basis for identifying development needs, starting coaching conversations, setting a benchmark at the start of a development programme,
  • Curatr 3 – a social learning networking tool – structured and facilitated learning which allows participants to contribute ideas and content.  All those cheesy graphics of seeds germinating?  Its like that.

Yes, I do use all three.  That’s because they are great.  See below for links.

Back them up

Tools alone do not maketh the learning.  Brave new behaviours will wither and die in the workplace if they are not supported by colleagues.  COLLEAGUES means EVERYONE.  If your peers think your mad, you’ll stop.  If your staff think your on one, you’ll stop in the end.  Most of all, if your senior colleagues are not encouraging (leading?), you’ll know its all just window-dressing, and go back to your targets.  Effort is something we chose to make.  Most people are like a pup with four tails if they are encouraged.

Wild excitement

I’m really chuffed (can you tell?), because I think the legal profession was at risk of looking ridiculous hanging on warehouse “updates” as a fig leaf to cover their embarrassment about not giving a stuff about learning how to do things differently.  It is entirely possible to value erudition and be able to understand how to create great relationships with clients and colleagues.  Now that’s a thrilling prospect.


Read the consultation paper here:

Lumina Learning

360 appraisal

Curatr 3