Whether you have just graduated from law school, or are looking to improve your skill base in an existing legal role, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) is vital in progressing your career.
Employers today look for not only qualifications, but also experience. Gaining legal experience can be difficult, especially if you haven’t managed to bag your first job yet. This is where CPD can play a vital role in gaining the required experience, exploring new areas of expertise, or simply boosting your skill set, all of which will make you more employable.
• Continuing Professional Development
CPD can offer the opportunity to learn new information via dedicated courses, and can also contribute to CPD points. These points are used as a method of assessing an individual’s abilities and talents within the legal sector, and are widely used in many other professional areas. It is compulsory for solicitors to attain at least 16 hours of CPD within each year, and these can be completed through training courses offering specific legal qualifications, but they are just as valuable when undertaking ‘transferable skills’ courses such as I.T, first aid, or management development.
Training should not be undertaken with a mind to simply boosting your CPD points, but instead, should be used as an opportunity to fulfil your own potential, expand your knowledge base, and hone your skills. Employers aren’t looking for robots who have all been on the same course, and attained the same knowledge. They are looking for employees who value understanding, and are capable of broadening their horizons whenever possible.
• CPD – The Competitive Edge
When employers are offered a choice between two prospective employees, they will usually choose the one who has extensive external CPD in other areas. For example, if two people attend an interview for a legal firm with the same law qualifications, but one has also completed first aid training, volunteers once a month at a Citizens Advice Bureau, and has recently completed a management course, they are more likely to select the candidate who has the extra training, even though this may not contribute to their legal knowledge.
This is because evidence of surplus training, undertaken by the individual through their own choice, shows ambition, willingness to learn new skills, and commitment. These are all vital transferrable skills within any work place, and are often highly prized by employers. Law firm candidates in an interview setting are selected for their abilities to work hard, and who have shown they can develop themselves in different areas.
Likewise, any specific legal CPD training you complete can be added to your portfolio, giving you a comprehensive knowledge base, and extra areas of expertise. Legal training, such as personal injury training, will also give you the ability to network with other people in similar situations to yourself. They may be rivals for jobs, but they could also become work colleagues, friends, or simply new avenues for information.
Today’s economic climate requires individuals to develop their talents, show proficiency in key skills, and have dedication to their work. CPD is an excellent way of achieving new skills, and highlighting your extracurricular activities, making you highly employable. Employers want a long term commitment from their workforce; employees who can demonstrate the ability to sustain their learning, develop their own talents, and who are competent and confident, will be an asset to any firm.