Your Way To Professional Competence

In last month’s edition of our journal, we outlined the Solicitor Regulation Authorities’ continuing competency regime. This has been in place for all legal businesses since 2016 and is something that all legal employees are expected to follow. The skill of self-reflection was considered, and a challenge was given for readers to identify the following:

  • Personal strengths and weaknesses

  • Tasks that could be done better

  • Areas where improvements in knowledge, skills or behaviours were needed

Armed with answers to these questions, you will have made your first personal reflective entry. In this article, we will consider what you should do with your reflections to ensure that you are making the best use of your training log.

Identify your learning needs

You may find it helpful to talk with a colleague, a manager or even a client. You can ask for feedback at any time. If you prefer a more structured opportunity for reflections, then appraisals or performance reviews are useful, as they should outline the level of performance expected and normally take place at regular intervals (annually and/or midyear). If you feel you would benefit from a more objective view, consider speaking to someone outside your organisation who knows you and the type of work you do. If you have direct contact with clients, be proactive about asking them for feedback. It does not have to be anything all that formal, and simple questions such as “Has everything gone as you expected?” or “Could we have done anything better?” might result in an instant appraisal that helps you identify gaps in your knowledge or skills.


Once you have identified the areas for improvement, you need to plan to carry out the learning. Traditionally, this might have been arranging to attend a suitable course, but there are other things you can consider planning, such as reading articles, listening to webinars and podcasts, researching, shadowing a colleague, or arranging to be mentored. When planning, also consider how you have enjoyed learning new things in the past and look for opportunities to learn in that way. Perhaps you learn best by reading, for example. If you are lacking time, you might consider listening to short podcasts, say, on your commute. The important thing is to find a flexible way to learn that best suits you. With your plan in place, make some time available to make it happen.


Once you have carried out the learning, you should evaluate how useful it was. Did it get you towards your learning goal? Ask yourself what you learned and critically evaluate whether it wholly or partially fulfilled your learning needs. If you think that the learning has been effective, do not just consider listing what you learned, but rather ask yourself, what will you now do differently?

More than 2000 years ago, Confucius identified reflection as the noblest way to learn wisdom. This was echoed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle when he said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Article written by Seamus Ryan.