Professional Development & the Requirement to Maintain Ongoing Competence

Professional development is a sine qua non for all legal professionals who are entitled to carry on reserved legal activities. It is common knowledge among all legal professional that their activities are regulated. The regulatory framework for the regulation of legal services in England and Wales is set out in Part 3 of the Legal Service Act 2007 (LSA) of which section 12 sets out the six specific legal services that only the authorized (or those who are exempt) are entitled to provide.

The six services are:

  1. The exercise of a right of audience.
  2. The conduct of litigation.
  3. Reserved instrument activities.
  4. Probate activities.
  5. Notarial activities.
  6. The administration of oaths.

The regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales is headed by the Legal Services Board (LSB), a body established under the LSA in 2007 of which Part 4 deals with “regulatory and representative functions of approved regulators”. The approved regulators (AR) have been required under the Act to separate their representative functions from the regulatory functions.

Thus, for solicitors the approved regulator (representative body) is the Law Society whereas the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the independent regulatory body which is also the licensing authority.

For barristers the approved regulator (representative body) is the Bar Council and the Independent Regulatory body is the Bar Standard Board (BSB).

Similarly there are regulatory bodies for chartered legal executives (CILEX); licensed conveyancers; patent attorneys, trademark attorneys, cost lawyers, notaries and chartered accountants.

The SRA, being the independent regulatory body that regulates the conduct and business activities of solicitor firms, made it a mandatory requirement from November 2016 for all practicing solicitors to undertake CPD learning activities to ensure their ‘Continuing Competence’ (“the ability to perform the roles and tasks required by one’s job to the expected standard” (Eraut & du Boulay, 2001)). According to the requirement solicitors must reflect on their practice and undertake regular learning and development activities in order to maintain the standard of competence in their respective subject areas they practise. In particular solicitors are required to engage in continuing education with a view to developing their skills and knowledge to maintain remain their Continuing Competence, specifically across the following four areas:

  1. Ethics, professionalism and judgement
  2. Technical legal practice
  3. Working with other people and
  4. Managing themselves and their own work

There is the requirement for every solicitor to make an annual declaration (statement of solicitor competence) at the point of submitting the application for renewal of the practicing certificate to the SRA that he or she has acquired the required degree of Continuing Competence. Hence, for a solicitor, meeting the competences as set out in the ‘competence statement’ forms an integral part of the requirements of service and competence set out in paragraph 3.1 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs.

Accordingly, it is evident that is vitally important for every solicitor to his/her best to ensure that their learning needs are appropriately met by attending lectures/seminars/ or other forms of CPD events targeted on improving their competence in the 4 areas referred to above.

Whereas the SRA provides materials Tool Kits to assist for evaluating solicitors’ progress,  the Law Society’s provides accreditation schemes such as firm accreditation, Lexcel, Conveyancing Quality Mark, Wills and Immigration Quality, Immigration & Asylum etc. Whilst the membership of an accreditation would last for 3 years, reaccreditation is available only for senior caseworkers.

ASLLUK’s Contribution to Professional Development

As all our existing members are aware, ASLLUK has been recognized by the Law Society as a professional body to award Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminars/events to its members. ASLLUK has a reputation for organizing CPD events which are attended by speakers who are very experienced senior lecturers who are mostly senior barristers. The speakers would normally provide well organized drafts of the study materials, relating to the specific topics of respective subject areas. The drafts are then organized into pretty booklets which are handed out to members prior to the commencement of the seminars which are popular and well attended for reasons of both affordable price and the high standard of presentation.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASLLUK will be organizing, so long as the pandemic lasts, virtual seminars of which the membership will be informed. ASLLUK also invites its members to provide their suggestions in respect of particular subject areas and topics that will need to be subjected to discussion at future seminars.

This page is will be continuously updated and we aim to provide the membership with a resourceful platform with updates in most of subject areas practised by our membership; in particular Conveyancing, Immigration, Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation and Family.

Members who practise the above mentioned respective areas of law are kindly invited to share their experience, expertise and skills in order to make this page as resourceful as possible for the benefit of the entire community of law professionals. Equally ASLLUK would welcome your suggestions and constructive criticism aimed at improving the service this page offers.

Useful links for latest news, updates and guidelines for family law practitioners(Divorce, Matrimonial, Private and Public Law) :

Useful links latest news, updates and guidelines for conveyancing practitioners: