CPD across the Commonwealth – a comparative view

Peter Shand                 As compulsory CPD comes into force for New Zealand practitioners, in this new series Law News speaks to lawyers across the Commonwealth about their experience with continuing legal education.

SCOTLAND

“Training is central to all that we do,” says Edinburgh-based lawyer Peter Shand.

Given the 20 compulsory hours required by the Law Society of Scotland and a further 16 for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (of England and Wales), Scots practitioners are used to being kept on their toes.

Shand is a partner in the Private Client Department at Murray Beith Murray, having qualified in Scotland in 2001 (after a two-year training period) and in England and Wales in 2007. He advises individuals and their families on a wide range of legal, financial and taxation matters, focusing on the protection and distribution of assets across generations.

Shand’s firm holds annual appraisal meetings with individuals at which career development and ongoing training are discussed. But the lawyers are also encouraged to be proactive about identifying opportunities throughout the year to attend seminars or gain additional qualifications when they arise. Shand cites the Diploma in Trust and Estates which is run by the Society for Trust and Estates Practitioners (STEP) as something he has completed in order to meet CPD requirements, with the added benefit that the diploma also aided him in “developing my technical skills and progressing my career”.  

Shand says it is relatively easy to accumulate the required amount of CPD hours as Murray Beith Murray holds internal training sessions every week, sometimes inviting an external speaker to present on a topic. The sessions also provide a good opportunity to share day-to-day experience of practical issues, he says, “particularly where we deal with complex tax or trust issues”.

In terms of method, Shand finds webinars both convenient and “a great way to get a high standard of training”. He has himself presented a number of webinars for Central Legal Training, on topics ranging from family businesses to pensions and trusts.

He says there are different benefits of other types of training. “I find that conferences such as the STEP conference or the International Bar Association conference provide an opportunity to meet professionals from other jurisdictions. Estate planning is an international business and a lot of my work is dealing with lawyers and clients from other jurisdictions, particularly where the client has Scottish or English links or assets. International conferences are a great way to develop contacts as well as technical skills.”

CPD is managed easily thanks to online planning tools provided by both the Law Society of Scotland and the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales, which enable lawyers to record and keep track of their CPD.  

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