Solicitors, like many other professionals focus their learning and development on the expertise which is central to their role; which for solicitors is law. As firms today require their legal professionals to take on the role of trusted business advisors guiding clients towards the best resolution, solicitors are now expected to know more than just the law. To be able to achieve this proficiency solicitors are required to grow beyond the stereotype and become great negotiators; business developers; networkers and communicate with financial and commercial acumen.
The introduction of the Statement of Solicitors competence and the resulting changes that is it making to the way in which they regulate the profession convey this same rational. By requiring solicitors to be assessed not only their by legal knowledge but also a competence appropriate to their experience (e.g. level three/threshold upon qualification).
In addition with the removal of compulsory CPD hours in October 2016, the SRA are aiming to create a culture in which solicitors are able to reflect on their own practice. In doing so, they themselves can identify their individual development needs, with the aim of creating a plan which addresses these needs and subsequently closing the gap. All of which is recorded formally within the annual declaration form.
So what does all this mean for legal training specialists?
There is no doubt that these changes area adding to the challenges already faced by professionals responsible for solicitor training. They not only must they ensure individuals are strategically savvy, they also need to understand and adhere to compliance requirements.
What firms need are solicitors who can build key relationship with clients who can and will help in securing more work, not only for themselves but others within the firm. This requires skill in communication and an aptitude to stand in the shoes of the client to appreciate the difficulty from their perspective. Put simply, this expertise can’t be learnt from a book.
The competency framework clearly values the importance of the legal professional being a trusted advisor with two of the four statements being;
C – working with other people
D – managing themselves and their work
Emphasising the need to develop skills to build relationships with a range of key stakeholders and effectively managing the tasks and work that is expected by these firms. To successfully address these competence requirements it is necessary to acquire skills in the areas of negotiation; commercial literacy and management, all of which address not only address the competence areas C + D, but also provide guidance in the training room as to how to reflect on practice and begin the process of how to reduce the knowledge gaps.
All Altior courses are mapped to the competency framework; ensuring that attendees are able to effectively complete the CPC process whilst guaranteeing the essential skills and knowledge needed are acquired and maintained.