- On 10th November 2015
It comes as no surprise to hear that emphasis on staff development and training in the legal sector – particularly in relation to business and personal skills – continues to lag behind other professions.
Now the need to address this gap has become critical with the imminent replacement of CPD with competency requirements that are being phased in by the SRA between now and November 2016. Legal practices are facing a tough challenge: how to interpret and develop a fully SRA-compliant approach to competency for legally qualified fee earners.
Having said that, the need to do something different now (and better) can be a valuable catalyst to apply a new approach to developing everyone in the business and not just the lawyers. Until now, people working at all levels in most law firms have not been equipped with many of the skills they need to meet the increasingly demanding expectations of their clients.
In the October 2015 issue of LSN’s Briefing, newly-appointed HR Director at Wragge Lawrence Graham and Co, Chris Oglethorpe, gets to the core of why legal businesses should invest in their people: “It’s those individuals who provide the service to clients, and if we don’t consider “them” we won’t manage what we want to achieve in terms of high-performance culture.” This confirms again that people are the most valuable asset to any firm, but the wider issue remains: how do you grow them?
Given the prestigious titles of Financial Times’ ‘Innovative Law Firm 2015’ and ‘Innovative Lawyers Award 2013’, Pinsent Masons are making changes via a forward-thinking cultural shift that has seem them develop new products and services to engage their clients more effectively, aiming to give them more value from their “legal” experience.
Pinsent Masons have had to change, work hard and develop new capabilities to make these new initiatives happen. They have been pro-active to ensure that their people are developing a new understanding of their clients; adapting their own roles to match and developing new skills that they now understand they need to be able to meet the objectives of the business.
The roles that people fulfil there are being influenced by exposure to a legal world where demands on access to information and data and the need for compliance on ethics and regulations are moving faster than ever; all of which impact on the expectations of clients and what they value.
How can you manage self-regulation?
Whilst the (simpler to implement, but often ineffective) requirement to deliver a specified number of hours authorised training in your firm is being wound down, there is even more need now to invest in training and development; but to do that (cost) effectively in a way that improves the potential of your people and your business.
Defining what constitutes competency for each person as they progress their careers in your practice – and implementing appropriate training to fill gaps – is good practice and will help your practice perform better.
Some of the key gaps that need to be addressed in most practices has significantly hampered the success of law firms until now, where there has been lack of investment in the past, including failure to:
- Create and build effective leadership and management
- Develop skills to understand and develop client relationships
- Help people understand and introduce innovation
- Introduce professional selling skills
Capitalising on the move to Competency-Based Compliance
Solicitors can move from the old CPD approach to training and development to the new competency-based system now, but will be required to do so by the SRA by 1 November 2016; so that’s the deadline that all solicitors need to prepare for.
The new regime is much more flexible as you decide what constitutes competence for each person at their particular stage of development based on the SRA’s “Competency Statement”. Then you decide what steps should be taken to fill current gaps and also to continue their development.
These are all decisions for you to make, but need to be recorded and should be made with effective overall development of the practice to meet business objectives in mind.
The Transition period set by the SRA before the implementation takes place next year, sees the perfect time to up your game when it comes to tackling compliance and regulation in your firm.
To allow this to produce the best results for your business and your people, you should consider the following:
- First – analyse what your training needs are, how these can improve the performance of your staff and the service they deliver to your clients.
- Second – you need to know what methods of learning and tools are right for your company and culture.
- Third – you need to figure out the types of course topics that are vital for your employees’ development and will be the most engaging for them.
We can help you align these decisions with our innovative learning solutions, blending all forms of training – workshops, classrooms, simulation, e-learning and more – into the most effective system for you, allowing your people to find time to commit to their own development too.
To manage all training, ensuring all elements of competency are addressed effectively
Our Learning & Development Management platform can help you define training needs for all your people. It enables you to identify appropriate training solution to fill gaps and develop competency; then also to track completion and evaluate effectiveness. This equips you to demonstrate full compliance to the SRA, whilst focusing primarily on improving your business.
The platform also gives you easy to access to a wide range of course suites that you can build into your training plans for each individual alongside other training options. Online training programmes include: Leadership and Management, Business Skills, Customer Service and Relationship Management, Workplace Legislation and Regulatory Compliance and a lot more. These can all be incorporated in bespoke training, learning and development programmes for your practice.
We work closely with you to create and maintain a tailored approach, ensuring that our learning programmes and services integrate with existing training and development strategy and resource.
Get in touch with our expert team on 01787 370735, or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org