I have been privileged in recent weeks to sit in on a number of courses run by other presenters. On each occasion there was at least one delegate present who did not have a direct interest in the subject matter of the course and was therefore “just here for the points”.
Whilst for solicitors, some CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points can be gained through research, article writing, and delivering your own seminars (among other things), there is a requirement to attend some structured courses delivered by providers who are accredited by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. Not only that, the SRA Guidance on CPD requirements makes clear that CPD should be relevant to a solicitor’s area of practice.
Training frequently as I do, I see a lot of “points” delegates, particularly in September and October each year as the solicitors’ CPD year draws to a close.
There are 3 possible reasons why this might be:
- The right course is not out there; or
- The delegate has not had an opportunity to trawl countless brochures or websites to find the course that really meets their training need; or
- The delegate has been prevented by other work commitments from finding an appropriate course in good time and is forced to endure 6 hours of something way beneath their experience or, worse, completely outside their practice area.
It is rare for reason 1 to apply, but if it does, there is something you can do about it. Course providers are always open to suggestions of courses or webinars that might be of interest to their customers. See the bottom of this page for an example.
All too frequently, the real reason is either 2 or 3. But I have a solution for you. I do!
In order to avoid getting into this situation, I urge you to ACT NOW. Yes, TODAY. If you have time to read this blog then I wouldn’t mind betting you could find another 10 minutes once you have finished it.
Tips for finding a relevant course quickly:
- Plug the specific topic of interest into Google e.g. “CPD employment law update”
- Try searching for more general terms such as “professional development law courses [London]” or “legal training course finder [employment]” on Google. Easy peasy.
- Go straight to the website of a course provider you are familiar with and browse your practice area (or delegate this activity!). Course provider websites are often well structured and more up to date than a paper brochure.
- Look at the website of a presenter you already know or have heard of. Many (like me) put details of their forthcoming speaking engagements on there.
Too much like hard work? Are you going to end up on any old course come October? What a waste of your valuable time, if I may be so bold as to say so.
If you are tempted to sign the register, grab the notes and leave – be warned. It may surprise some to hear that a signature on the course register does not guarantee the accompanying CPD points. Employed and freelance presenters are required by many course providers to note on the register where a delegate leaves early. If the delegate does not stay the duration of the course, they will receive reduced CPD points. Imagine, paying in full for a course which is completely irrelevant to your practice area and still not getting the points you need…
If, despite all of the above, you do find yourself on a course “just for the points” this Autumn there are 3 things you can do to make it easier on yourself:
- Participate. If the course is within your practice area, the presenter will probably be keen to draw on your experience to help illustrate learning points. Take it from me, if you have an interest in delivering professional training yourself at any point in the future, building rapport with presenters in your practice area is a valuable investment.
- Observe. Whether or not the course is in your practice area, you may find a hidden gem of a fellow delegate that may be just what your firm is looking for. From trainee solicitors wishing to move on qualification to experienced lawyers or other professionals, the delegate introductions most presenters insist on at the outset of every course are often a potted career history of everyone in the room.
- Network. It is quite incredible how people one meets along the long path from first job to retirement can reappear unexpectedly. This is not a post about effective networking, so I will merely suggest that if you treat every meeting with someone new as an opportunity, who knows what rewards you may subsequently reap?