Annex II Examples of Law Society and other specialist accreditations
Law Society schemes
Children Law Accreditation Scheme
(Law Society, 2013b)
This scheme is available to solicitors and to CILEx Fellows holding the ‘Matrimonial Proceedings Certificate’ (sic) (or if working for a local authority, having rights of audience under s, 223, Local Government Act 1972). All applicants must have completed a compulsory course prior to application. Membership, which is for five years followed by re-accreditation is in a number of categories:
- Private practitioner children representative;
- Private practitioner adult representative;
- Local authority membership (for employees of local authorities).
The threshold experience requirements are stated slightly differently for each category. Submission is by case summary (full case reports for reaccreditation). If a member subsequently changes field (eg, from local authority to private practice or from child to adult representative), there is provision for membership to be transferred or converted. At least six hours of relevant CPD is required annually. Standards are stated in terms of knowledge as well as with reference to skills (which, other than advocacy, are not specified)
Civil and Commercial Mediation
(Law Society, 2013c)
This scheme is available to solicitors and FILEx and has general and practitioner membership. General membership (on completion of a Law Society compulsory training course) is allowed once only for a non-extendable period of two years, and is a transition to practitioner membership. Practitioner membership is for five years followed by reaccreditation. There are two routes:
- a development route for general members involving 90 hours of experience in mediation over a two year period together with four hours of ‘self reflection’ which can be achieved by at least 16 hours relevant CPD, courses, writing, reading, or promoting mediation;
- a direct route which is identical to the development route except that the applicant has not previously been a general member.
Application for practitioner membership is by case reports and a reflective account.
(Law Society, 2013d)
This scheme is available to solicitors and CILEx Fellows acting for claimants in clinical negligence work. Membership is for five years followed by re-accreditation. The application threshold is at least three years’ clinical negligence work defined both in quantity and in complexity (ie having gone at least to case management conferences). First-time applicants must have undertaken at least 30 hours relevant CPD in the three years prior to application and members are required to do at least 10 hours relevant CPD annually. Standards of competence are defined solely in term of knowledge of law and other material (such as the professional rules of the medical professions).
Conveyancing Quality Scheme
(Law Society, n.d.b) )
This involves the accreditation of a practice, rather than of individuals. The entity signs up to client service, conveyancing protocol and practice management standards and undertakes to put its staff on such training as the Law Society might require. The agreement can be terminated for breach or bringing the quality mark into disrepute. The agreement provides for ‘monitoring/audit/assessment as required on a risk-based or random assessment or following concerns raised with the Law Society’. A programme of audits was announced in 2012 because the Law Society needs to be able demonstrate that as a group, members of CQS are complying with the standards of membership. There is a series of mandatory training activities delivered online with assessment questions.
(Law Society, 2013e)
There has recently been consultation on a re-accreditation provision for this scheme, which appears still to be unresolved. The scheme, open to solicitors, CILEx Fellows and European Lawyers working under the directive, is designed to allow members to apply to be duty solicitors. Membership is for five years followed by reaccreditation in five-year increments. Applicants must complete the police station qualification (assessed by portfolio and critical incidents’ audio test), the magistrates’ court qualification (assessed by portfolio, interviewing assessment and advocacy assessment) and a fitness and propriety standard. At least six hours of relevant CPD are required annually. Statements of competence are given in terms of knowledge of law and procedure, ethics and professional skills.
Family Law/Family Law Advanced
(Law Society, 2013f)
The initial scheme is open to solicitors and CILEx Fellows who have carried out a minimum threshold of work in the field. Case reports are required for re-accreditation as is a minimum of six hours of relevant CPD annually. Standards of competence are stated in terms of knowledge of specified areas of law only.
At advanced level (open to solicitors and CILEx Fellows who have passed ‘the part two exams in family law and practice’ (sic)) individuals may specialise in two or more distinct sub-areas of work of which they are required to have ‘in-depth knowledge and awareness’ in addition to ‘general knowledge and awareness’ of other areas of law. Assessment is by submission of case reports and successful completion of scenario-based assessments. Re-accreditation is required after five years in each of the specialist sub-areas. There is no additional CPD requirement over and above the SRA/IPS norm.
(Law Society, 2012b)
The scheme is in the course of redevelopment because of a government initiative for a single standard for both privately and publicly funded family mediators.
The scheme is open to solicitors and FILEx and has both ‘general’ and ‘practitioner’ levels of membership. General membership is allowed once only for a non-extendable period of two years, and is a transition to practitioner membership. There are three routes to achieve accreditation:
- passported through the LSC family mediation competence assessment (which involves case reports, reflective account and case study questions and corroborated mediation experience);
- a development route for those who have previously been general members involving mediation experience, CPD, consultancy, writing, reading and submission of case reports;
- a direct route which allows a foundation training course in place of the general member stage.
A re-accreditation process is expected to begin in 2013 (after five years). There is a minimum annual CPD requirement of 10 hours of mediation related activity annually.
Immigration and Asylum/Immigration Law Advanced
(Law Society, 2013g)
The immigration scheme is constrained by compliance with Immigration and s. 84 Asylum Act 1999, and membership is mandatory for those (other than the self-employed Bar) providing immigration and asylum services under an LSC contract. This scheme is open to solicitors, CILEx Fellows, self-employed barristers, and non-solicitors employed in a solicitors’ firm or OISC regulated entity. There are four levels of membership: probationary, level 1, level 2 and level 3 (advanced) and additional supervisor membership status. Assessments for each level, against competency standards, are carried out by CLT. Assessment methods involve a multiple choice test, written examination, drafting assessment and client interview. Re-accreditation, by written examination, is after three years in the first instance and then every five years.
(Law Society, 2013i)
This is open to solicitors, MILEx and FILEx (sic), trainees and others provided that any non-solicitors are employed by a solicitor. Membership is for three years followed by reaccreditation (subsequent re-accreditations are every five years). Admission is conditional on attending a two-day approved training course but there is also an experience threshold based on representing in (or observing) a number of tribunal hearings and submission of case reports. Reaccreditation is by submission for assessment of further details of experience and case reports. At least six hours of relevant CPD is required annually. A number of standards of competence are stated, but these are not necessarily well-formed, and raise questions as to the mode of assessment, eg: ‘Commitment to representing clients with mental disorder’.
(Law Society, 2013j)
This is available to solicitors and CILEx Fellows who have passed the tort and civil litigation papers. There is an experience threshold based on number and to some extent complexity of cases worked on in the previous three years and the application is supported by submission of three case reports. Reaccreditation is after five years (by further submission of case reports) and there is a minimum CPD requirement of eight hours annually on personal injury related topics. Standards of competence are stated under law, ethics, professional skills and trial preparation under a general umbrella of competence given as:
a practitioner who can identify and advise on a wide range of personal injury and related issues and who does not perform work that is outside of his/her current knowledge, skills and expertise. A competent practitioner will seek appropriate advice and assistance as may be required to enable them to provide a full and effective legal service to their client.
Planning Law Accreditation Scheme
(Law Society, 2013k)
This accreditation is available to solicitors and CILEx Fellows. Initial membership is for five years, following which re-accreditation is required. Applicants must demonstrate ‘expertise’ in planning work (ie at least three years and at least 300 hours a year) and there are two routes: as a legal associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute) or a grand-parenting mechanism involving assessment of a 5,000 word essay on a planning topic. Reaccreditation involves submission of CPD records. There are ‘standards of competence’ but these are not in the form of competence statements, (eg, ‘listed buildings’), so it is difficult to see objectively what is being assessed.
Examples of other schemes
(APIL, n.d. a and b)
The APIL Certificate in Personal Injury Law is accredited for CPD by the SRA, BSB and IPS. Its published syllabus is given by reference to a list of content rather than by learning outcome and is validated by the University of Law. It is not tied to an NQF level but the APIL materials define the level as ‘introductory/intermediate’ by reference to the SRA. Assessment is by multiple choice test at each module attended.
The APIL quality mark can be obtained by individuals (including barristers), or on a corporate or in-house basis. Individuals are revalidated at five-yearly increments and the website refers to the LSB paper (2011) rating the APIL scheme highly. There are very detailed competency standards (covering ‘knowledge, know-how, understanding, behaviour and skills’) for each of three levels: ‘litigator’, ‘senior litigator’ and ‘fellow’. Further specialist accreditation in brain injury and clinical negligence isavailable to those at senior litigator level or above. In principle assessment is carried out by the individual’s own supervisor, on the basis for example that:
Evidence of competent performance will come from the day to day work of the candidate. The judgements required to assess competence, for the purpose of achieving Litigator status, are the same judgements that a firm should be making in determining the level of supervision a fee earner requires, and the extent to which they are able to take certain steps in progressing a claim on their own authority
Accredited individuals must acquire at least 16 hours of APIL accredited CPD annually.
Motor Accident Solicitors Society
MASS training is focused on paralegals and its Diploma in Accident Management and Personal Injury is accredited by the University of Law. Each module has stated ‘objectives’.
Oxford Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice
(University of Oxford, n.d.)
The Oxford Postgraduate Diploma in Intellectual Property Law and Practice uses learning outcomes and is assessed by coursework and examination (it was previously run by the University of Bristol and developed in conjunction with the Intellectual Property Lawyers Association). Students must be trainee or newly-qualified solicitors or barristers with at least a 2:1 or equivalent, although other qualifications may be accepted. The module specification benchmarks it against the QAA Benchmark statement for law, though it is a postgraduate award, and so, likely to have been set at NQF level 7.
Society of Licensed Conveyancers SLS Quality Assured
This scheme is available only to licensed conveyancers and was set up as an equivalent to the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme, in the wake of a number of lenders moving to limit conveyancing panel membership to CQS solicitors’ firms. It is intended to increase transparency to lenders and reduce the risk of fraud (CLC, 2011). There is very little public information about the operation or standards of the scheme at present.
 Including negotiation.
 Which involves the same degree of experience in the field together with an essay.