All barristers are required to complete a certain number of hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD hours) and return a record card to the Bar Standards Board annually. In the first three years of practice, newly qualified practitioners are required to complete 45 hours of Continuing Professional Development, including at least 9 hours of Advocacy Training and 3 hours of Ethics (the “New Practitioners’ Programme”).
All the Inns and Circuits run specially-designed programmes for new practitioners, focusing on the requirements for training in advocacy and ethics. The advocacy training is split into case preparation/case analysis, written submissions, and workshop-based practical training. Exercises are principally tailored to the requirements of the Self-Employed Bar (i.e. self-employed barristers), with a choice of civil, criminal or family cases. Two of the Inns also run courses for the Employed Bar (i.e. barristers employed by organisations such as Government Departments, the Armed Forces, etc.), which deal with issues which arise in both the public and private sector.
Ethics training consists of interactive, seminar-type discussion of possibly contentious scenarios, led by several trainers. These programmes might typically also include a session on client care.
On completion of the New Practitioners’ Programme, established barristers are currently required to complete 12 hours of Continuing Professional Development per year. This number of hours has recently been reviewed by the Bar Standards Board which is consulting upon its recommendation for an increase to 24 hours, which will involve a wider range of ‘approved’ CPD activities.
Building upon the Continuing Professional Development already offered at the New Practitioner stage, the Inns of Court and Circuits offer a variety of inexpensive, accredited Continuing Professional Development events and courses which are generally open to barristers and are sometimes organised in collaboration with Specialist Bar Associations. As the Inns are places of learning and debate for the whole profession, the topics offered in Continuing Professional Development events cover a wide range of the issues facing the profession today.
Lectures are a common method of providing CPD ‘training’ to practising barristers. The Inns and Circuits organise approximately 47 lectures for barristers per year (which are in some cases also open to students). Presented by barristers, judges and other experts in particular areas of law, these events may feature a single speaker or a panel of speakers and range from 1-2 hours in duration.