Last year, as part of the new approach to qualification and competence going forward, the SRA approved a competence statement for solicitors, which outlines the expectations of solicitors in this changing world.
Let’s break it down a little bit.
This statement defines competence as being "the ability to perform the roles and tasks required by one's job to the expected standard" (Eraut & du Boulay, 2001). As such, there is a recognition by the SRA that this is a changing and evolving beast.
Part A: Ethics, Professionalism and Judgement
This section of the statement basically states that solicitors need to be honest and act with integrity, especially in the fact of tough situations. There’s a responsibility for respecting diversity and privacy, as well.
It also states that solicitors must take personal responsibility for their own competence and knowledge levels, and that they should take the initiative if they feel they need some guidance or supervision in elements of the law they’re not as comfortable with.
Part B: Technical practice
Part B sets out that lawyers need the technical skills to research relevant information and that they must be able to filter out non-relevant information from a case. Their research skills are cased and the level of strategic planning ability a solicitor should have is also made clear.
The section also insists that lawyers must be able to draft legally effective documentation to the specifications of a client, and also that their spoken and written advocacy, and negotiating skills must be up to scratch.
Part C: Working with others
The third part of the statement sets out the communicatory skills that a solicitor must have, which revolves majorly around the idea that they must be able to establish and maintain effective and professional relationships with the clients they are working with.
Part D: Managing themselves and their work
The final section of the competency statement is based around the idea that effective solicitors must have the self-discipline and soft skills to manage their own workload and make sure all their projects are completed on time and to the required standard.
It also lays down the important notion of keeping accurate and complete records of their work and also the application of excellent business practice across the board.