While lawyers have duties to their clients and the court, they also have an overriding duty to the greater administration of justice. So why do so many practitioners consistently take part in a mad dash to tick the box and get their 10 points as March 31st looms? Why do so many practitioners brush over a scheme intended to enrich not only their professional development and career but the service they give their clients?
While practitioners don’t have a choice in whether they complete CPD, it’s enforcement as a statutory condition under the Uniform Law in each state provides the perfect opportunity to improve as practitioners.
The compulsory CPD fields enforced in most jurisdictions are no mistake either. With most states covering a variation of ethics and professional responsibility, practice management and business skills, professional skills and substantive law, the scheme seeks to foster well-rounded practitioners in all areas of practice. These compulsory fields then are not by chance, but rather a way for practitioners to remain compliant with their professional obligations and improve or develop their skills across a breadth of areas.
While there are compulsory areas you must complete CPD in, nothing is stopping you from assessing your own professional development needs. Taking the time to sit down and assess where you’re at concerning your professional development can prove more useful than you may expect. Is there an area of substantive law you’d like to explore further? Could your firm benefit from you discovering new practice management processes or business skills?
Consider dividing a page into two columns. On the left, list all of your current professional development goals. Try to be as specific as possible. These goals may relate to a particular area of law or focus on day-to-day soft skills for your practice or business. On the right, list which compulsory CPD area aligns with your goal. This should assist you in narrowing your CPD focus to areas or goals relevant to you. This is a process you may like to undertake at regular intervals. Alternatively, consider keeping this list somewhere easily accessible so you can add to it throughout the year.
Once you’ve determined your professional development goals, focus your search for CPD resources on these goals. This is a great way to embrace the compulsory CPD scheme and ensure you’re making the most of your time, particularly if you’re completing webinars or attending seminars outside of office hours.
Engaging with CPD resources doesn’t need to be a dry or tedious process. Take the time to find resources that offer you practical solutions to day-to-day problems or hurdles. Many webinars in the areas of practice management and business skills can help you with this. Is there a process in your firm that could be improved? Is there a feature in your practice management software you’d like to learn how to use? CPD should be an opportunity to not only develop in your practice area but to overcome smaller hurdles that may be making it harder for you to communicate with clients or collaborate will colleagues for example.
Look for CPD resources that don’t talk purely in abstract terms. Good, practical resources should be able to walk you through a process step by step or provide specific, relevant examples. If you’re going to be spending your lunch break or weekend fulfilling your CPD requirements, ensure you can take something actionable away from your webinar or seminar.
There’s no doubt that the compulsory CPD scheme allows you to develop your practice in substantive law. However, it also gives you the opportunity to improve in areas that can make your day-to-day (and often non-billable) work easier. With this in mind, CPD should have a year-round focus. While there may be a point or two to collect as March 31st approaches, the more beneficial (and sustainable) approach to CPD involves ongoing evaluation of your professional goals throughout the year.
How will you be making the most of the last month of the CPD year?
LEAP is pleased to announce additional webinars in the lead up to March 31st. Registrations are now open for a range of webinars requested directly by LEAP clients. To view the full schedule or register for a webinar, click here.
If a particular educational activity is relevant to your immediate or long term needs in relation to your professional development and practice of the law, then you should claim one “unit” for each hour of attendance, refreshment breaks not included.