In this article
- Changes for Solicitors for 2021/22
- Key topic areas of study
- Embedding ethics across all four CPD subject streams
- Tips on planning your CPD
- CPD review update
The new CPD year commenced on 1 April and you should be starting to consider how you will meet your education and professional development needs.
Changes for solicitors 2021/22
For the last two years we have removed the cap of 5 hours on private study of audio/visual material due to the pandemic. The cap will be reinstated from this year. 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.
Many lawyers told us during the review that there was a lack of clarity around the meaning of these terms in the CPD Rules. Further guidance about what we consider ‘private study of audio visual material’ and what is ‘online interactive study’ is available on the CPD page of our website.
Key topic areas for 2021/22
The findings of our 2020 report, and recent South Australian findings about the prevalence of harassment within the legal profession, suggest that lawyers should focus on sexual harassment in the workplace when planning their CPD year.
Look for CPD sessions that go beyond basic facts (e.g. describing the legal definition of sexual harassment) to examine the types of less obvious behaviours that can constitute this conduct. Training should include information about what you can do if you experience or witness sexual harassment, as well as how to take a leadership role within the profession to prevent and address sexual harassment. Ask CPD providers whether their sessions address these issues.
The manifestations and implications of family violence is also a topic you should consider, particularly if you practice in family law, criminal law or other areas that deal directly with members of the community.
Leaders within the profession should consider refreshing and deepening your understanding of your workplace health and safety obligations in the post-COVID flexible working environment. This includes your obligations to address bullying and other forms of harassment, equal opportunity and anti-discrimination. CPD in this area could also assist you to identify ways to provide support to your staff to maintain wellness and balance.
Embedding legal ethics education across the four mandatory CPD subject streams
The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (RCMPI) highlighted the importance of continuing ethics education for lawyers and recommended that legal ethics education be embedded across the four streams of CPD. This finding was consistent with our Getting the Point review.
We have developed a guide for CPD providers highlighting ways they can incorporate ethics principles and issues in non-Ethics CPD stream topics, to underline the importance of legal ethics education across all areas of legal practice. The guide also contains information for providers on how to strengthen legal ethics education within the Ethics CPD stream through greater use of interactive, scenario-based learning.
While the guide is for CPD providers, it contains important information that will assist you in choosing the most useful ethics CPD for your role and development needs.
The guide contains a list of ethics topics that could be explored exclusively or within the context of substantive law, practice management or professional skills CPD subjects. We welcome your ideas and feedback on further topics you see emerging for consideration.
You can download a copy of the new guidance here.
How to plan your development
Getting the Point identified that reflection and planning of CPD would assist lawyers to proactively identify the types of CPD activities and topic areas that are practical and relevant to their area of practice, nuanced to their level of experience and targeted to their particular legal position.
Your reflection could involve identifying emerging gaps in your knowledge and skills and thinking about current and emerging risks and challenges, such as technological developments or changes to the law. You could consider sense testing the robustness of your reflection with your mentors and colleagues.
When planning for your education for 2021-22, reflect on your needs and seek out sessions that offer:
- interactivity and active participation
- scenario-based problem solving, particularly for ethics activities
- smaller groups, break-out sessions and longer formats
- a level of discussion that is nuanced to your experience, practice area and your role and position
- an expert in the field who is an engaging presenter – look at reviews if you are not sure
- a range of formats for achieving your CPD such as a discussion group or preparation of journal article
- activities with learning outcomes that align with your development goals and include a topic that is new and presents a challenge to your current knowledge or way of practising
CPD review update
We support all of the 28 recommendations made in the Getting the Point report. We are currently talking with professional associations, CPD providers and other stakeholders about how we can work together to improve the quality, availability, relevance and diversity of CPD activities over the next 3-4 years. Our initial focus will be on better guidance and resources for lawyers so there is more clarity and access for different groups.
Ethics education will also be a strong focus given the significant concerns raised by lawyers during the review and as further highlighted by the findings of the RCMPI. A robust CPD scheme based on a culture of continuous learning and development will support lawyers achieve the highest standards of ethics and practice.