SRA Statement of Solicitor Competence– a quick guide and nine steps to get you started.

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It is my great pleasure to introduce and welcome yet another highly accomplished and experienced author! Ann Page, a top 100 lawyer, worked in-house for the banking and retail sector for over 25 years. Since 2003 she has trained nearly 7000 lawyers on leadership, management and interpersonal skills. She is currently helping lawyers navigate the SRA Statement of Solicitor Competence, as she has over 15 years practical experience in developing an applying competencies for lawyers. Further information on SRA support is available here. Ben

Are you aware of the Solicitor Competence Statement or do you need a quick recap?

There is no longer a need to commit to a specific number of training hours (16 hours) or accredited training (the SRA no longer accredit training). Currently there is a voluntary system in place until November 2016 when it will become compulsory.

Solicitors will now have full responsibility to undertake training and development to ensure that they comply with Principle Five of the SRA Principles (2011), namely that they are able to deliver a proper standard of service in their practice areas. There is also an expectation that solicitors will continue to ensure that they can comply with Principle 5.

To assist solicitors, on the 11th march 2015, the SRA Board approved the publication of a Competence Statement – http://www.sra.org.uk/sra/policy/training-for-tomorrow/work-streams.page#Collection_1

Competencies are characteristic sets of behaviours, which have been shown to be associated with achieving successful outcomes in organisation. They are underlying behaviours, which enable people to shine in a particular role. They are the factors that distinguish ‘the best from the rest’ in a given role.

Are you aware of the contents of the Statement of Solicitor Competence?

This Statement has four main themes:

A. Ethics, Professionalism and Judgement (five sections and twenty-two behavioural characteristics

B. Technical Legal Practice (seven sections with thirty-two behavioural characteristics and a Threshold Statement*

C. Managing themselves and their own work (three sections and twenty-six behavioural characteristics)

D.  Working with other people (three sections and twelve behavioural characteristics)

Please see – https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/competence-statement.page for full details of the behavioural characteristics of each Statement of Solicitor Competence.

 *There are also six levels within Technical Legal Practice (B) called the ‘Threshold Statement’ as follows:

  1. Functioning Knowledge
  2. Standard of work
  3. Autonomy
  4. Complexity
  5. Perception of context
  6. Innovation and originality

The above levels in the Threshold Statement apply to the seven sections of the Technical Competence B, and you need to assess yourself against the appropriate level. The ‘Threshold Standard’ for newly qualifieds is set at number three – Autonomy.

The SRA have also set out an underpinning Statement of Legal Knowledge that identifies what is required for thirteen specific technical areas that NQ’s will need to review against your current knowledge and understanding – see http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/competence-statement/statement-legal-knowledge.page

From this information you will assess your learning activities for your Technical Legal Competence B) so that you remain up to date to comply with Principle Five.

Nine steps to enable you to be ready to switch by November 2016:

1. Review all the material available on the SRA website links above. This will help you to determine what you (and your firm) need to do to comply with this new approach. You can then make an informed decision about what changes if any you need to introduce to learning and development system you currently follow.

2. Or you can purchase our highly popular workshop materials which provides an ‘easy to use’ guide to the SRA Statement of Solicitor Competence and the learning and development framework. Our 45 pages of notes include over 24 ideas that can be used to train you (and your solicitors) cost effectively. You will also find a section about introducing change which will give you a head start for implementing this new learning and development framework or adapting your own to take into account the SRA method. If you already have a competency method of learning and development that fits your legal business then you can continue to use this.

3. Competence A2 requires that you reflect on your capability and potential in your day-to-day legal practice, and that this is documented. You may choose how you wish to do so that suits your legal practice.

4. In order to complete any self reflective planning documentation for your leaning and development the SRA has suggested that you think about:

  • – when you need to do;
  • – why you need to do;
  • – when you need to do;
  • – How you will do it;
  • – prioritising your learning and development needs.

5. Following self-assessment, a development plan will need to be completed. The SRA have provided a Development Plan template for you to complete if you do not have one of your own that suits your legal practice.

6. When completing your ‘learning’ planning document or the SRA’s Development Plan, you will need to set out how you are going to address your identified areas for improvement over the next 3/6/12 months.

7. Please note that there are now lots of ways to address learning needs that are recognised as appropriate by the SRA. They have listed several on their website from formal to informal training (including shared learning and file reviews) and many more. To assist you I have designed specific coaching and training packages tailored to the Competencies A, C-D called ‘Documenting your Brilliance’ ™. See http://www.yorkshirecoursesforlawyers.co.uk

8. As you work through your learning and development plan, you will need to record your progress on the activities chosen including what you have learnt and applied. If you do not have a development record then you can start with the SRA’s template. ‘We (SRA) do not prescribe a specific approach, however, for each of your identified learning and development need(s) you may find it useful to record:

  • What you did;
  • – How it was related to ensuring your competence;
  • – What you learnt;
  • – When the activity was completed. 

From SRA website: 6th March 2016.

9. Solicitors have individual responsibility to follow this process so don’t wait for your firm to decide what system they want to apply if they won’t be ready for November – use the SRA base templates.

It is strongly recommended that you only sign your practising certificate in November when you have at least completed either your own learning and development plan or the SRA Development Plan template. Please contact ann@beyondthebrief.com if you require more information on:

  • The Statement of Solicitor Competence and its impact for you and/or
  • How to introduce a competency based assessment process in to your practice and/or
  • Cost effective training or coaching package designed to support Competencies A, C and D.

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One thought on “SRA Statement of Solicitor Competence– a quick guide and nine steps to get you started.

  • PaulW
    July 13, 2016 at 9:47 am
    Permalink

    Once the summer break is over, November will be upon us before we know about it. Thank you for your article Ann. A good timely reminder for solicitors and practice managers. The links work well as a quick and easy reference which is very useful.

    Reply

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