The Regulations governing the current 2021 practice year CPD cycle define ‘Regulatory Matters’ as “matters relating to the regulation of solicitors, including:
(a) Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 and regulations made thereunder;
(b) accounting and anti-money laundering compliance;
(c) the Society’s Guidance Notes for Solicitors on Anti-Money Laundering Obligations;
(d) risk management;
(e) the Guide to Professional Conduct of Solicitors in Ireland;
(f) professional ethics and the maintenance of standards of best practice in complying with regulatory obligations;
(g) the processing of complaints against solicitors by the Society and the functions of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the courts in relation thereto”.
Having attained the minimum CPD requirements for 2021, it is open to you to do the remainder of your 20 hours in Practice Management &/or Regulatory Matters &/or General CPD (i.e. with no obligation in such event to undertake any General CPD topics).
The basis of the Law Society’s introduction of the minimum Regulatory Matters CPD, and indeed its obligation on solicitors to undergo at least three (3) of the annual twenty (20) hours on Management courses, is because a frequent difficulty experienced (and acknowledged) by solicitors relates to poor management of their practices, e.g. “poor communication with clients or shortcomings in financial management”.
This can lead to poor public image, mistakes being made, breaches of the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 and regulations made thereunder occurring, too often resulting in complaints to the Law Society, and the consequent possible disciplinary actions. Hence the emphasis and obligation to keep up to date with regulatory matters and skilled at managing your practice (and yourself).
According to the Regulations, “Examples of the topics which fall within the category of regulatory matters include training on accounting and anti-money laundering compliance, legal costs, prevention of corruption, data protection, cyber security (from a risk management perspective), professional indemnity insurance, professional ethics, how to identify an ethical issue, solicitors advertising, undertakings, conflicts of interest, professional duty of confidentiality, and relevant legislation including the Freedom of Information, Protected Disclosures and Regulation of Lobbying Acts and the General Data Protection Regulation.
Given the potential for serious repercussions and consequences for a solicitor failing to manage his/her stress appropriately, training in stress management which is intended to alleviate work pressures, is now considered a risk management tool. Training relating to stress management in the workplace may include stress and thinking patterns, unhelpful thinking styles and challenging behaviours, managing boundaries, how to recognise and alleviate triggers for poor mental health, and how to avoid legal professional ‘burn-out’, in addition to mindfulness and how to enhance performance through same.”