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Changes to CPD requirements

2020/21 CPD year

For the 2020/21 CPD year, due to COVID-19 we removed the 5 hour cap on private study of audio/visual material. 

You must still have completed 10 units of CPD by 31 March 2021 (pro rata), but this could be done through the private study of relevant audio/visual material. 

When applying to renew your practising certificate for the 2021/22 year, you can tick the ‘Yes’ box even if you have undertaken more than 5 CPD units of private study of audio/visual material. The PC renewal process will then proceed as normal.

2021/22 CPD year

The cap of 5 hours on private study of audio/visual material has been reinstated for this CPD year (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022). It is important to note that online interactive study (such as participating in an online seminar with interactive elements) is not counted as ‘private study of audio/visual material’ and there is no cap for this type of professional development. 

Further guidance about what we consider ‘private study of audio visual material’ and what is ‘online interactive study’ is outlined below under 'CPD Rules'.

CPD Rules

The CPD rules for barristers and the rules for solicitors outline the types of professional development activities you can undertake and earn CPD points for. The CPD Rules were developed by the national professional associations, the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Bar Association and approved as Uniform Rules by the Legal Services Council.  Under the Uniform Law we are responsible for regulating compliance with the CPD Rules.  We have delegated some functions associated with CPD compliance to the Law Institute of Victoria (for Solicitors) and the Victorian Bar (for barristers).

The CPD Rules for solicitors and barristers are slightly different so please ensure you are familiar with the CPD Rules that apply to you. If you change roles during the CPD year to become a barrister or vice versa, please see our CPD Policy.

In general, each activity must:

  • be of significant intellectual or practical content and be related to the practice of law;
  • be conducted by a person suitably qualified with practical or academic experience in the subject matter (not necessarily a lawyer); and
  • extend your knowledge and skills relevant to your practice or career development.

The Rules explain that you must complete at least one point in each of the following four fields:

  • ethics and professional responsibility
  • practice management and business skills;
  • professional (or barristers’) skills; and
  • substantive law (which includes practice, procedure and evidence for barristers).

There are a range of options for completing CPD.  For a more rewarding experience, we encourage you to pre-plan at least some of your CPD and try different formats and delivery modes.  You can:

  • participate in a lecture, seminar, workshop, discussion group or other educational activity – either in person or online
  • research, prepare and/or edit a legal article
  • prepare and/or present a CPD activity
  • be a member of a legal committee, taskforce or practice section, if the work is of substantial significance to the practice of law and assists your professional development
  • undertake postgraduate studies relevant to your practice needs
  • undertake private study of audio/visual materials if it is specifically designed to update your knowledge and/or skills relevant to your practice needs. See below for more information.

For solicitors, there are some limits to the number of hours you can do for each activity. Please see the table below:

CPD activity Points of activity Limits that apply for solicitors
Participate in a lecture, seminar, workshop or discussion group, in person or online (see note below) 1 point per hour of activity No limits
Research, prepare and/or edit a legal article or law report 1 point per 1,000 words No more than 5 CPD points per year
Prepare and/or present a CPD activity 1 point per hour of activity No more than 5 CPD points per year
Participate in  a legal committee, taskforce or practice section 1 point per 2 hours of activity No more than 3 CPD points per year
Postgraduate studies relevant to the practice of law or practice needs 1 point per hour of activity No limits
Private study of audio/visual materials (see below) 1 point per hour of activity No more than 5 CPD points per year

Private study of audio visual material

Private study of audio/visual material is passive, i.e. it’s study that doesn’t offer any opportunity for participant interaction with the material, e.g. watching a recorded seminar, lecture or presentation. This is capped at 5 hours.

Online interactive audio/visual offers participants the opportunity to interact, or requires interaction with, CPD material because it involves things like: 

  • Real-time discussion among participants in ‘break-out’ rooms
  • A chat function or other facility to ask questions or post comments during an online seminar
  • Quizzes, tests and polls to test your existing knowledge of a topic, comprehension of the material being discussed, and/or ability to apply concepts in practice
  • Scenarios that require you to choose from various options in order to proceed.

This type of activity has no limits.

The Victorian Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria also have valuable information and resources about CPD on their websites.

You must keep a record of all the CPD activities you complete for at least three years.

LIV accredited specialisation

The Law Institute of Victoria Accreditation Specialisation program can also be completed as part of your CPD for a total of 10 points. The program accredits more than 1,000 specialists across 16 areas of law and allows lawyers to be recognised as having an enhanced skill level and experience in their area of law. Lawyers need to demonstrate superior knowledge, experience and proficiency in a particular area of law to become an accredited specialist, and need to maintain their accreditation.

Practice Management Course

For solicitors intending to become a principal of a law practice or commence as a sole practitioner, undertaking a practice management course is highly recommended. Successful completion is a way to demonstrate you have the rights skills and expertise to be granted your first principal practising certificate.  The course is also recommended if you are already a principal or sole practitioner and want to refresh and update your skills. Successful completion will allow you to meet all your CPD obligations for the year of completion.

CPD Policy

Our policy provides further guidance to assist you to meet your obligations under the CPD Rules and ensures consistency and clarity for our delegates, the LIV and the Bar.

This policy is divided into three areas:

  • Part A: Compliance with CPD Rules.
  • Part B: Monitoring compliance with CPD Rules.
  • Part C: Responding to non-compliance with CPD Rules.

CPD reporting

When you apply to renew your practising certificate, you must declare whether you’ve met your CPD obligations for the CPD year. The CPD year runs from 1 April through to 31 March of the following year.  If your circumstances change during the year and you are concerned you may have difficulty complying with your obligations, you may qualify for an exemption. 

If you haven’t met your obligations at the time of making the declaration, you should provide details of any exemptions granted to you, or include any rectification plan to make up your CPD, with your renewal application.

See our sections on exemptions and making up for missed CPD.

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