CPD – The new scheme for established practitioners

Todays blog may not be based on the most exciting topic but it is important. The scheme for Continuing Professional Development changed for established practitioners from the 1st of January 2017.

The official guidance is available here but the content below summarises some of the key points.

Minimum hour requirements are no more!

The BSB say there is no longer a minimum amount of hours that you need to complete.

The onus is on you..

The BSB comment that practitioners will now have individual responsibility for deciding which training they require. The new scheme has created a more targeted approach and the new structure allows “you to determine your own professional development requirements for the year more efficiently.”

As a result, you are required to set your own learning objectives and reflect on how well they were met.

The four steps

For a barrister to be compliant they must complete the four steps set out below:

(1) Review – Plan your CPD for the year

This stage is effectively the planning stage; you should set learning objectives for yourself and produce a plan for the year ahead.

The BSB have issued a sample of a compliant plan here.

The BSB set out five skill areas in their template plan under the heading of learning objectives and further advise that it would be good practice when planning to consider these. They are:

  • Legal Knowledge and skills;
  • Advocacy;
  • Practice Management;
  • Working with clients and others;
  • Ethics, professionalism and judgement

The compliant plan demonstrates that Mr Joe Bloggs learning objective for legal knowledge and skills is to deepen his understanding of the international element of his practice and in particular the rules of the ICC. The BSB require you to set out the type of activities you intend to complete to meet your learning objectives. Mr Bloggs does this by saying he will attend lectures and seminars on the ICC and read relevant articles.

(2) Record

Once you have created a plan and set out your learning objectives for the year, it is during stage 2 that you record the relevant CPD activities you have done.

In terms of what you should list, the guidance advises “it is good practice for the record of your CPD activities to include:

  • Title/Description of your CPD activities;
  • Date (or date range of your activity;
  • Type of CPD activity;
  • CPD provider (where applicable);
  • Knowledge area the CPD activity relates to;
  • Learning objective(s) met by the CPD activity;
  • Reflection on your CPD.”

The new scheme is said to be more flexible in regards to the types of CPD activities that you can complete. Page 19 of the guidance sets out a non-exhaustive list of activities which are classed as CPD and those which are not. Podcasts and presenting seminars are included in what does count as CPD whilst work completed as part of routine practice and updating your social media do not.

You are also encouraged to “keep a note or evidence of the CPD activities that you have completed over the past three years of practice.”

(3) Reflect

The BSB notes that in order to be compliant you are required to reflect on the year and the activities you have undertaken. It emphasises that there should be a focus on any variations from planned CPD and on assessing future CPD.

The sample compliant plan does this by asking a series of questions, such as:

Did you need to vary your learning objectives during the year?

Which learning objectives have not been met? Provide an evaluation as to why this was the case.

(4) Report

Finally, one must make a declaration of completion of CPD each year. The BSB note that the CPD years runs from 1 January to 31 December. So you will be able to declare whether you have completed the requirements for the prior CPD year as you complete Authorisation to Practise requirements to renew your Practising Certificate.”


On the FAQ section of the site it is noted that “there is a deadline that your CPD planning, your actual CPD activities and your reflection must be completed by 31st December.

Further reading/watching…..

There is a helpful FAQ page on the BSB website. Click here to see the same. In addition, you can watch a webinar on the new scheme here.

Lois Norris, Legal Assistant to Gerard McDermott QC

Readers should note that this is not intended to be definitive legal advice but rather comment on the new guidance issued by the BSB in relation to CPD.