TCPD - FAQs for training providers

Below are the answers to some common questions in relation to trainee continuing professional development (TCPD), what it entails and information on TCPD licences. If you have any questions, please email peat@lawscot.org.uk.

What is TCPD?

In 2011, CPD replaced the professional competence course (PCC), which trainee solicitors were required to undertake during their legal traineeship. All trainees who started their traineeship on or after 1 September 2011 should undertake TCPD.

The requirements for those undertaking TCPD are:

  • All trainees must undertake a minimum of 60 hours of TCPD.
  • All trainees must undertake a minimum of 40 hours of TCPD from an authorised provider.
  • A trainee is entitled to undertake relevant TCPD with a non-authorised provider, to contribute towards their 60 hours (there is no requirement to do any non-authorised TCPD).
  • As part of the minimum of 40 hours authorised TCPD, trainees must undertake a four-hour mandatory ethics course from an authorised provider. This ethics course should take place between months nine and 15 of the traineeship.

Trainees are strongly encouraged to undertake more than the minimum requirements of TCPD; TCPD is a benchmark which trainees and trainers should aim to surpass.

What are the main differences between TCPD and the professional competence course?

An advantage of TCPD is that, unlike the PCC, it can be scheduled flexibly and spread throughout the two-year traineeship. Therefore it doesn't have to take the trainee away from the workplace for a block of days. TCPD can also be tailored to the needs of the individual trainee, unlike the PCC which has core modules which must be completed by the trainee. If a trainee is very able in one area but requires more support in another, TCPD can help address those training needs.

The only compulsory content of TCPD is for all trainees to complete a four-hour mandatory ethics course. TCPD's main purpose is to assist the trainee in achieving the PEAT 2 outcomes, whilst also helping to embed at an early stage the importance of continuing professional development.

What is the ethics course and where can I do it?

All trainees must complete a four-hour mandatory ethics course as part of their minimum 60 hours of TCPD. The four-hour mandatory ethics course counts towards the minimum 40 hours as it must come from an authorised provider.

The mandatory ethics course provides training on areas such as conflict of interest, confidentiality and anti-money laundering. It must be completed between months nine and 15 of a traineeship.

You can only complete the ethics course through any of the Law Society authorised providers. For information on providers authorised to deliver the course, please see the authorised providers section of the website.

How will TCPD be assessed?

There will not be any formal assessment of TCPD. TCPD should be used to help the trainee develop and meet the PEAT 2 outcomes by the end of their traineeship. However, TCPD should be recorded by trainees and this will be monitored by the Society.

What does non-authorised TCPD mean?

The Society took the decision to allow trainees to access TCPD from non-authorised providers as well. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are many private organisations which offer very good CPD which would be of benefit to trainees. It may be that, if these organisations were required by the Law Society to do so, such providers would not wish to come forward for TCPD authorisation. Such examples might include local faculties, advocates stables or other professional bodies (eg ICAS, RICS etc). Secondly, some firms may not be in a position to come forward to be authorised as TCPD providers. That said, the firm may offer update sessions internally. Such sessions could count towards a trainee's non-authorised TCPD.

What are the TCPD licences?

There are a total of four licences specifically related to TCPD. These are:

  • a TCPD internal licence to offer the 40 hours' authorised TCPD to the firm's own trainees
  • a TCPD external licence to offer the 40 hours' authorised TCPD to all trainees
  • an ethics licence to offer the mandatory ethics module (either internal or external providers may apply for this)
  • a licence for organisations whose performance management systems meet the standards of the Society's own PEAT 2 quarterly performance review (PQPR) system and which organisations do not wish to use the Society's system.

None of these licences are compulsory. In each case, a training organisation will reach its own decision on whether to apply for one or more - or not as the case may be.

If you have any questions in relation to the licences, please contact the Society at PEAT@lawscot.org.uk.

How long are the TCPD licences valid for and how much do they cost?

They are valid for two years.

It costs £250 for the internal or external or ethics licence and £500 for the PQPR licence.

What is authorised provision and who can provide authorised TCPD?

Authorised provision is where the trainee undertakes TCPD through a Law Society approved TCPD provider. Those wishing to apply for authorisation as a TCPD provider can range from a training firm seeking to offer bespoke TCPD for its own trainees to universities or others intending to offer it to all comers.

How do you become an authorised provider and how long does the process take?

To become an authorised TCPD provider, applicants must submit an application to the Law Society's Education and Training Department. This application will be reviewed in line with the authorisation documentation. If any matters are unclear or further information is required, applicants will be asked to provide that information in order for it to progress.

The length of the process can vary depending on the substance of an individual application. The process generally takes between four and eight weeks.