Countdown to competency: are you prepared?

The countdown to the competency statement on October 31 is fast approaching, with many firms looking to ensure that their solicitors and legal professionals meet the SRA required standards. Although the SRA’s previous model of CPD is no longer applicable, this Autumn goal is one which firms should continue to work towards if they wish to build a team that is compliant and has the most up-to-date and relevant skills when practising law. This week, we’re discussing a few key factors that you should consider to help your team and firm get prepared this October.

What does the statement of competence truly mean?
In basic terms, competency in the legal industry means “the ability to perform the roles and tasks required by one’s job to the expected standard” (Eraut & du Boulay, 2001). Not only does this apply to professional skills and qualifications but it also references personal skills which are best developed through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) qualifications. In comparison to the traditional competency statement, a continuing competence approach was introduced in 2015 and should be a priority for legal professionals to encourage ongoing development, to enhance their service offering and create a best practice approach to legal work within their firms.

Enhance your personal skills
Without certain personal skills like negotiation and communication, many would struggle to uphold a career in the legal sector, or it would indeed make life more difficult. For example, according to Entrepreneur magazine, 46% of employees leave a meeting unsure of what actions they need to complete next, highlighting a problem with basic communication within the workplace as a whole. However, outside of these necessary skills, legal professionals should be continuing to develop their personal skills throughout their careers via relevant CPD courses such as commercial awareness, commercial contracting skills, or time and stress management, among others. As well as ensuring that solicitors remain competent to uphold their performance in their role, investment in training programmes such as CPD can help to showcase employee recognition and investment. After all, Forbes reported that 79% of employees said they left their jobs in 2018 due to a lack of appreciation, and training can go a long way to help combat this issue.

Build on managerial skills
For those looking to build their professional status and continue to climb the career ladder, it’s crucial to consider Management and Leadership courses. In 2016, only 37% of employers were reported to be investing in management skills, despite the fact that 58% of respondents said that management skills are lacking in UK businesses. Also, according to Forbes research, 58% of survey respondents claim that they did not receive any formal training before undertaking their managerial roles. This is surprising considering that we expect managers to have a wide range of skills including people management, strong communication, the ability to manage workloads and more. However, these skills cannot be enhanced through experience alone – there needs to be effective training undertaken to understand best practice approaches and to experience an outside perspective. After all, good management can increase productivity levels by 10%, so these individuals need to be nurtured to remain compliant whilst also helping the firm to achieve more efficient results.

The countdown to competency is now upon us as we approach October 31, and it’s important to ensure your team feel prepared and continuously look to build on their personal skills whether they want to enhance their career prospects or perform to the best of their abilities. For more information about our upcoming CPD courses or to speak to a member of our team, contact us on 02920 451 000 or email us at: infoaltior@barbri.com

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