CPD - The Final Countdown for Legal Professionals
04 Oct 2018
As the 31st December CPD deadline fast approaches, what can solicitors do to ensure that they’re compliant with all CPD requirements for the 2018 cycle requirements?
The importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) should never be underestimated. It is a career long obligation and in the case of legal professionals, it’s designed to improve professional knowledge, skills and abilities in order to benefit the solicitor, their firm and their clients. It is also the personal responsibility of the individual to keep their knowledge and skills as current as possible. As CPD goes in annual cycles, there is always a frantic rush towards the end of the year to ensure that all hours have been completed.
The Law Society guidelines have indicated the following:
- Solicitor who is NOT a sole practitioner or a compliance partner and/or an anti-money laundering compliance partner: the CPD requirement for the 2018 cycle is 20 hours, to include a minimum of 3 hours management and professional development skills and a minimum of 2 hours regulatory matters.
- Solicitor who IS a sole practitioner or a compliance partner and/or an anti-money laundering compliance partner: the CPD requirement for the 2018 cycle is 20 hours, to include a minimum of 3 hours management and professional development skills and a minimum of 3 hours regulatory matters, of which at least 2 hours shall be accounting and anti-money laundering compliance.
There are 3 main ways to complete CPD:
Group Study – an organised session of 3 or more people for a time of not less than 30 minutes. Most of the bigger firms organise sessions themselves and alert their staff to the times / dates / topics. Local bar associations and the NIYSA also arrange CPD seminars so do keep in touch with them. However you do have to be physically present. If you’re watching a live feed of a seminar, then this counts as e-learning.
e-Learning - A maximum of 50% of a solicitor’s minimum CPD requirement (modified or otherwise) may be claimed for time spent in relevant eLearning
Publishing Material: You can claim up to a maximum of 50% of your minimum CPD requirement for time spent writing a relevant article within a legal periodical or textbook.
To avoid any last minute panic to complete the minimum CPD hours, we’ve outlined a few tips below:
Don’t cram everything into one day’s frantic push to complete. – There is a maximum limit of 7 hours CPD which may be completed with a single day. Start now with a plan and there’s no reason why your minimum requirement can’t be completed with a few bonus hours thrown in!
Calculate your hours correctly - a maximum of 50% of a solicitor’s minimum CPD requirement (modified or otherwise) may be claimed for time spent in relevant eLearning and/or writing relevant material that is published in any one CPD cycle.
Apply for your pro-rata reduction (if applicable) - according to the Law Society website, minimum CPD hours may be reduced if you’re (a) a newly qualified solicitor (b) on maternity / parental/careers / adoptive leave, (c) in part-time practice, (d) on sick leave or (e) other substantive reasons which can be checked with the Law Society. Remember to apply well in advance before your final CPD hours’ submission.
Pay attention to your specified function: the minimum CPD requirement is no less than 2 hours of regulatory matters in each cycle. However if you’re involved in compliance or AML, you have to complete at least 3 hours of regulatory matters (of which at least 2 hours should be accounting and AML compliance).
Know what counts as CPD hours – don’t forget if you’re a member of a committee or a working group within the Law Society or other law-related professional bodies (such as the NIYSA), and you’re attending those meetings, you can claim up to a maximum of 7 hours CPD.
Remember to hit the Submit button! – it’s no use completing all your hours, filling in the form and then forgetting to submit the whole thing simply by not scrolling down the screen and hitting “submit”.
Eileen Moloney is Head of Marketing with the Brightwater Group