The Legal Services Board has approved the revised approach to continuing professional development proposed by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
The changes will see the abolition of the current hours-based system.
The SRA said that under the new regime solicitors will be required to meet their regulatory obligation to provide a proper standard of service “by regularly reflecting on their practice, and identifying and putting into place a programme of individual learning and development”.
They will have to make an annual declaration to this effect.
Solicitors will be able to choose to move to the new system from this April. The revised scheme will apply to all solicitors from 1 November 2016.
Julie Brannan, Director of Education and Training at the SRA, said: “Our role is to ensure that consumers of legal services can be confident that those we regulate are retaining their professional competence. Our new approach enables us to uphold standards while also permitting solicitors and firms to determine training and development according to their specific needs and learning styles.
"It is a much more rigorous approach than at present as solicitors will need to think hard about what they need to do on a regular basis to ensure they remain competent to practise.”
In its decision notice the LSB approved all the changes in full. Chief executive Richard Moriarty said the super-regulator "welcomes the move from a presciptive regulatory framework for CPD, currently based on arbitrary house, to a more outcomes focussed framework that places responsibility on firms and solicitors to manage their continuing competence."
The letter warned that the benefits of the new regime would only be fully realised if the new arrangements were effectively implemented.
In this respect Moriarty said the LSB was pleased to see the SRA would put in place active review and evaluation processes, including for the opt-in period. "As the SRA has acknowledged, the change is a big cultural shift for the SRA's regulated community."
The LSB chief executive also welcomed that the SRA's post-implementation review would look at costs impacts on solicitors and firms.