Established Practitioner Program

CPD for barristers after their first 3 years of practice

After practising for more than three full years, barristers must undertake CPD in accordance with the Established Practitioner Program (EPP).

How do members of the practising Bar demonstrate their competence?

To make sure that barristers continue to meet the requirements of the Professional Statement and continue to develop relevant knowledge and skills, barristers are required to undertake Continuing Professional Development in accordance with the BSB’s CPD Scheme.

During their first three full years in practice, barristers must comply with the CPD rules within the New Practitioner Programme (NPP) before moving onto the Established Practitioner Programme (EPP).

The CPD rules are contained in Part 4 of the BSB Handbook. rQ130.2 defines CPD. as work undertaken over and above your normal commitments as a barrister. CPD is undertaken with a view to developing your skills, knowledge and professional standards in areas relevant to your present or proposed area of practice. This is in order to keep yourself up to date and maintain the highest standards of professional practice.

Barristers are no longer required to undertake a minimum number of CPD hours annually, nor is there a requirement to undertake ‘accredited’ CPD courses. The BSB checks that barristers are complying with CPD requirements by spot checking a sample of practitioners’ CPD records.

What is required on the EPP?

The BSB sets out the requirements under the EPP scheme as follows:

  • REVIEW: You should prepare a written CPD Plan setting out your learning objectives and the activities you propose to undertake during the year which should be tailored to you and your needs. There is no minimum number of hours required and you do not have to attend ‘accredited’ CPD courses. In developing your learning objectives, you may wish to consider developing your legal knowledge and skills; advocacy skills; practice management; working with clients and others; and ethics, professionalism and judgement.
  • RECORD: You should keep a written record of the CPD activities you have undertaken over the past three years including your reflection on the CPD you have undertaken during that time, any variation in your plans and an assessment of your future learning objectives. You can download an EPP Record Card template from the BSB website.
  • REFLECT: You should reflect on your planned and completed CPD activities to assess whether you have met your objectives.
  • REPORT: You must declare to the BSB annually that you have completed your CPD as part of the authorisation to practise process when you renew your practising certificate. The BSB will monitor CPD by spot-checking with a focus will on barristers who are at higher risk of non-compliance with their CPD requirements, supplemented with a random sample of the profession. High risk will be established, amongst other things, with reference to a barrister’s history of compliance.

You can find full EPP guidance here from the BSB.

Relevant CPD activities can include:

  • taking part in formal face-to-face training courses, including university courses
  • online courses
  • listening to podcasts
  • attending conferences
  • taking part in seminars or webinars
  • reading or research
  • authorship and editing of published works of a professional nature. This could include exam papers, substantial consultation responses, law reform proposals, professional updating e-zines/blogs
  • presenting seminars, lectures and workshops, and
  • teaching on a relevant legal course e.g. LLBs, LLMs, the GDL, Bar Vocational Training Courses, LPC or Diplomas in Law

The following activities will not be considered by the BSB to count towards CPD:

  • work completed as part of routine practice, including pro-bono or volunteer legal case work
  • updating and following social media accounts
  • blogging unrelated to your current or proposed practice

Where can I find courses and materials to meet EPP requirements?

The Inns and Circuits provide a number of advanced training programmes to barristers which are of considerable professional value and can form part of your CPD. These include the ICCA’s Advocacy and the Vulnerable courses designed to ensure that all advocates, when dealing with children or vulnerable witnesses, understand the key principles behind the approach to, and questioning of, vulnerable people in the justice system.

The ICCA provides additional high quality advocacy training resources which can be used as part of your CPD activities.

Example CPD Plan

If I am a criminal practitioner undertaking serious work in the Crown Court, what kind of CPD should I undertake?

In order to demonstrate that you have reflected on your practice and identified areas where you feel that development is necessary, you will need to look at the Professional Statement as a starting point.

The Professional Statement sets out at 1.15 that a competent barrister will have persuasive oral advocacy skills, together with those standards expected.

As can be seen from 1.15(i), a competent barrister must recognise the role of different types of witness and use appropriate questioning techniques for witness handling, having particular regard to vulnerable witnesses.

Your CPD Plan could, for example, set out a Learning Objective such as: Identify and understand the latest principles of best practice when cross-examining children and vulnerable witnesses.

Your Learning Objective Rationale might be: In order to remain competent when questioning children and vulnerable witnesses and to be sufficiently competent to accept work in such cases.

The type and nature of CPD activities might include:

  • Online learning
  • Face-to-face training
  • Watching training films
  • Reading

Your Record of Activity should then set out precisely what you did to perform the stated activities and you should reflect on whether you felt that the activity you undertook met the learning objective you set for yourself. It should be relatively easy to evidence your pursuit of the activity and you should make a note of the hours spent. For example:

  • 8 hours online prep of the ICCA Advocacy and the Vulnerable Course
  • 3 hours face-to-face training on the ICCA’s Advocacy and the Vulnerable Course
  • 1 hour watching exemplar films on the Bar Council portal on the ICCA’s Advocacy and the Vulnerable Course
  • Reading Children and Cross-examination – Time to Change the Rules, Professor M Lamb and John R Spencer

Developing a reflective practice is something that the ICCA encourages and supports. We strive to produce materials and guidance on topical areas and to support the practising Bar to maintain their knowledge and skills in an effort to make the profession the best that it can be. We strive for academic and professional excellence for the Bar.

Click here to download a completed example copy of a CPD Plan.

Click here to download a blank copy for you to complete.