Want to improve your management skills?
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Marc Bloomfield
Description: Practice management
Managers achieve goals by working with others. All legal sector businesses need managers, but relatively few see management as the main element of their role. Most see their main job as being a solicitor or caseworker, others consider themselves to be administrators. Many are ‘accidental managers’ and have been drawn into management because someone has to do it. They may well have done training for their main role, but little or no management training.
Certificate in Practice Management
The Legal Aid Practitioners Group’s (LAPG’s) Certificate in Practice Management (CPM – on which Matthew Howgate and I are the lead tutors) was created in 2015 to meet the needs of legal aid managers. Matt and I did a session at the recent LAPG conference on sustainability and adapting to the new normal, which was based on the principles used on the course. It was great to hear from past participant Jenny Beck, director at family specialists Beck Fitzgerald, about how much the course had benefited her, even though she had years of management experience; but we make sure that it is relevant to all managers.
Some were very new to their role when they did the course, while others had been running successful practices for years, but feedback has been positive regardless of prior experience:
I would recommend the CPM to other people, especially people who are relatively new to management (newly qualified solicitor).
I really enjoyed it, I thought it was great (manager with over 10 years’ experience).
In 2020, The Legal Education Foundation funded LAPG to create a remote-delivery version of the course that is specifically tailored for the not-for-profit sector and is now called the LAPG Management and Leadership Programme. LAPG’s CEO, Chris Minnoch, was determined that a new remote-delivery version of the CPM should also be created for legal aid private practice. We are now ready to roll!
The CPM is designed around the Legal Aid Agency contract requirements, The Law Society’s Lexcel standard, the Specialist Quality Mark and the Solicitors Regulation Authority competence framework. The CPM covers key areas including strategy, business planning, financial management, management information and dashboards, leadership, people and performance management, information management, compliance, and risk management. Matt and I are joined by specialists in equality and diversity, and marketing.
We know how demanding legal practice has become since the pandemic began, so the CPM has been completely updated to be delivered remotely in two-hour sessions on five days spread over six months. This cuts out travel time and expense, and we hope it makes the course accessible to a wide range of people across England and Wales – but we daydream about a final face-to-face session so everyone can meet in real life!
The next course will start on 26 May 2021 with financial and resource management, followed by business planning and risk management on 23 June, marketing and communications and managing your legal aid contract on 21 July, equality and diversity and leadership on 10 September and managing people on 8 October.
The course fee is £499 for LAPG members and £649 for non-members, which covers course sessions, training materials, and recommended texts (including the LAG Legal Aid Handbook 2020/21).
Benefits for individuals
Everyone who has taken the CPM has really enjoyed it, particularly having time to think about management and the opportunity to discuss management issues with others in a similar situation. Participants say they gain confidence and acquire new skills.
Benefits for practices
The course delivers practical tools that people can use from day one. Employers say they notice that their colleagues have increased confidence after the course. Several practices have enrolled more than one person on the course and it has become part of their development programme, so that when the current cohort of managers comes to pass the baton to the next generation, they have the confidence and skills to take it. It can also deliver immediate bottom-line benefits.
We’re introducing dashboards at partnership and team level; time targets, costs and average fees.
Your training and support of our practice manager seems to have revolutionised our legal aid work and significantly increased our billing last year.
To discuss the course or book a place, please contact LAPG’s training manager: Lucinda.Acland@lapg.co.uk.

About the author(s)

Description: Vicky Ling - author
Vicky Ling is a consultant specialising in legal aid practice and a founder member of the Law Consultancy Network.