What is the SRA competency framework?

Bernadette Mcdonald

The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) Competency Framework is a set of professional skills and behaviours that solicitors in England and Wales are expected to demonstrate throughout their careers.

The Competency Framework is made up of the following documents:

Threshold Standard: This outlines the minimum standard that trainee solicitors must meet in order to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales. The Threshold Standard covers a wide range of legal knowledge and skills, including the following:

  • Legal knowledge: Trainee solicitors must have a sound understanding of the principles of law, legal systems and procedures, and key areas of substantive law, such as contract law, property law, and criminal law. There no longer needs to be 4 rotational seats in contentious and no contentious areas so long as the trainee gains a broad range of experience across different areas of law, in order to develop the knowledge and skills required to provide competent legal services to clients.

  • Legal skills: Trainee solicitors must be able to demonstrate a range of legal skills, including legal research and analysis, drafting legal documents, advocacy, negotiation, and client care.

  • Professional conduct: Trainee solicitors must understand the ethical and professional obligations of the legal profession and be able to apply them in practice.

  • Communication: Trainee solicitors must be able to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and other parties, both orally and in writing.

  • Case and practice management: Trainee solicitors must be able to manage cases and practices efficiently and effectively, including managing time, resources, and client relationships.

Statement of Solicitor Competence: This sets out the high-level standards that solicitors are expected to meet, including their ethical obligations and the skills and knowledge they need to demonstrate in their work.

Statement of Legal Knowledge: This describes the specific legal knowledge that solicitors are expected to have in order to practice law competently. The Statement of Legal Knowledge covers a wide range of legal topics, including the following:

  • Principles of law: This includes the fundamental principles that underpin the legal system, such as the rule of law, the doctrine of precedent, and the hierarchy of courts.

  • Legal systems and procedures: This covers the different legal systems and procedures used in England and Wales, including the civil and criminal justice systems.

  • Professional conduct and regulation: This includes the regulatory framework that governs the legal profession, such as the SRA Code of Conduct and the rules of professional conduct.

  • Business law and practice: This covers the legal aspects of running a business, such as company law, contract law, and employment law.

  • Property law and practice: This includes the legal principles and procedures related to property, such as conveyancing and land law.

  • Litigation and dispute resolution: This covers the procedures and principles of litigation and dispute resolution, including alternative dispute resolution methods.

By setting out the specific legal knowledge that solicitors are expected to have, the Statement of Legal Knowledge helps to ensure that solicitors are able to provide competent legal services to their clients. Think of these as a checklist of what a solicitor should know in their practice area.

Statement of Legal Skills: This sets out the specific legal skills that solicitors need to be able to demonstrate in their work. These cover a broad range of skills that solicitors must have, including the following:

  • Advocacy: The ability to present arguments persuasively in court, in written or oral form.

  • Communication: The ability to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and other parties, both orally and in writing.

  • Legal research and analysis: The ability to conduct legal research and analyse legal information in order to provide accurate and informed advice.

  • Drafting: The ability to draft legal documents, such as contracts, pleadings, and opinions, accurately and effectively.

  • Interviewing and advising: The ability to interview clients and provide clear and effective advice based on the client’s needs and circumstances.

  • Negotiation and mediation: The ability to negotiate effectively on behalf of clients and to use mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods where appropriate.

  • Case and practice management: The ability to manage cases and practices efficiently and effectively, including managing time, resources, and client relationships.

Statement of Ethical Obligations: This outlines the ethical obligations that solicitors have, and is set out as the Principles which include independence, integrity, confidentiality, and professionalism .


How does Reflective Practice fit into the Competency Framework?

Reflective practice is an important component of Competency Framework, as it is a key way for solicitors to develop and maintain their competence and professionalism over time.

Reflective practice involves thinking critically about one’s own experiences, actions, and decisions, with the aim of improving one’s practice and learning from mistakes. It is a way for solicitors to assess their own performance, identify areas for improvement, and take steps to enhance their skills and knowledge.

The SRA Competency Framework encourages solicitors to engage in reflective practice as a way of demonstrating their ongoing commitment to professional development and continuous learning. The framework recognizes that the legal profession is constantly evolving, and that solicitors must be proactive in keeping up with changes in the law and legal practice.

Reflective practice is also closely linked to several of the specific competencies set out in the framework, such as self-management, communication, and professional ethics. By engaging in reflective practice, solicitors can demonstrate their ability to manage their own learning and development, communicate effectively with clients and colleagues, and uphold the ethical and professional standards of the legal profession.

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