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Continuing professional development

1 December 02

Planning to meet your continuing professional development obligations

by Alison Atack

Most Faculties have taken CPD on board and have regenerated their own local solicitor communities. Firms organise in-house seminars and get together with others to offer joint seminars.  

Some still find it difficult to make time for CPD and difficulties tend to occur when members don’t apply a measured pace and try to fit it all in at the end of the year. The Committee always recommend planning ahead and spreading the load throughout the year. The choice of seminars is much better too. If you really are up against it, write to George Samson requesting an extension or, in serious cases of personal or family illness, a waiver.

The Update team offers a large choice of seminars on a broad range of subject matters. Update can also Video Conference seminars to multiple locations at the same time, with question and answer sessions too. If your area finds it difficult to attract the right seminars, contact Iona Ritchie and, subject to sufficient interest being generated, Update will consider it.

The Committee is currently devising a strategy to allow distance learning but at present it’s applicable to private study only. Research into distance learning is being done at Strathclyde University and the results, based on the questionnaires that most of you filled in last year, will be with the Committee shortly. We would like to thank you all for taking the time to complete the questionnaire, Strathclyde were very impressed by the number returned.

There’s a great deal of information available on the CPD record card but it’s probably worth covering some of the other frequently asked questions.

Choice of seminar

The Committee will not give guidance as to the appropriateness of a particular seminar as this is a matter for the solicitor’s good judgment.


If a record card is chosen for monitoring, information will be requested on content and attendance from the course provider and from the member. If as a result additional information is required the member will be asked to provide it. If the course provider cannot confirm attendance, the member will be asked to ‘make-up’ the number of unconfirmed hours. Please ensure that seminar providers have mechanisms for recording your presence and ensure that the record is retained for at least two years.  If you move to another firm please take your CPD record card and any course notes with you.

Time out

Members will not need to undertake CPD in the year in which they intend to retire but they will be asked to ‘make-up’ time if they then renew their Practising Certificate. Members may take short breaks from the profession but if the appropriate number of CPD hours has not been achieved in the year before the break, the Committee will expect members to ‘make-up’ the hours in addition to the normal requirement in the year in which they return to work.


The Administration team handle enquiries regarding general matters. However, where requests for extensions, waivers or matters related directly to a member are concerned, the requests are passed to the Competence Committee which will make a recommendation to Council. Council will accept the recommendation, reject it, or pass it back to the Committee for further investigation. This can be time consuming depending as it does on meeting schedules for the Committee and Council. I am delighted to say that there are very few who fail to comply with the Regulations but those who do may find themselves receiving a letter of Unsatisfactory Conduct from the Council.

Thank you all for joining in the spirit of this life-long learning experience. It’s an education for us all.

Alison Atack Convener, Competence Committee