Jane Sweetman, 'Mental Health Accreditation: changes to the re-accreditation process' (email from Law Society, 19/10/17)

This email describes changes to the re-accreditation process: (1) from 1/3/18 re-accreditation applicants may, and from 1/6/18 must, adhere to the following new requirements: (a) provide details of two (rather than four) case reports, and (b) "undertake one case study, which will be either a s2, s3 or restricted case, plus questions to draw out not only your legal knowledge, but also an understanding of how you would approach and represent such a client"; (2) from the next renewal date, applicants must undertake six tribunals per accreditation year (with discretion applied, for example, for those taking a career break or undertaking high profile work). The changes are subject to reasonable adjustments for applicants with a disability. The changes in this email never made their way into any of the official guidance documents.

Full text of email

We are writing to inform you of some changes to the re-accreditation process for our Mental Health Accreditation. In deciding the new process, we have consulted with the Mental Health Lawyers Association and the Legal Aid Agency, although responsibility for changes to the scheme is the Law Society’s alone. The current process for initial accreditation to the scheme has not been changed.

Changes to the re-accreditation process

We currently ask candidates to complete a re-accreditation application form and provide details of four case reports. Under the new process, applicants will need to :

  • complete an application form
  • provide details of two case reports
  • provide details of at least six hours of professional development training for each of the three years prior to re-application. This requirement has not changed.
  • provide an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring (EDBS) check. This requirement has not changed.
  • undertake one case study, which will be either a s2, s3 or restricted case, plus questions to draw out not only your legal knowledge, but also an understanding of how you would approach and represent such a client.

We will also ask you to tell us the number of tribunal hearings you have undertaken. From your next renewal date, we will require you to undertake at least six tribunal hearings per accreditation year. There would always be an element of discretion applied, for example if you had had a career break, or had only undertaken a small number of cases in a year because your work was high profile.

Why has the process changed?

The addition of a case study, together with practice and professional conduct questions, will ensure that the re-accreditation process assesses ongoing knowledge and the ability to represent clients, as well as the accumulation of experience. We want to ensure that all members are given an equal opportunity to re-accredit, providing they are able to show evidence of continued specialist knowledge.

What if I have a disability and need special consideration?

Applicants who have a disability and find it difficult to complete the application or case study should contact us for assistance. You can help us by informing us of what reasonable adjustments you need to enable you to undertake the re-accreditation and to participate as equally as other individuals.

When will the new process come into effect?

The new arrangements will come into effect on 1 March 2018 . There will be no change to your current renewal date, however you will receive instructions about the new requirements in a reminder letter, three months before your current renewal date falls due. For a period of three months from 1 March, we will accept applications in either the new or the old format - if your renewal date falls within this window you will be given more information about your options with your reminder renewal letter.

Further information

We will update our scheme application forms and guidance notes to our website by the end of this year. If you have any queries that are not answered by this documentation, please contact accreditation@lawsociety.org.uk.

Yours sincerely

Jane Sweetman

Product Manager, accreditations

The Law Society

See also

Law Society mental health accreditation scheme