Confused about your yearly MCLE/CPD requirements? Don't worry! You are not alone. The rules around continuing professional development vary from state to state in Australia so if you practise across jurisdictions you have a particularly challenging time right now in making sure you are meeting the differing requirements.
The following is a summary only and we advise you to check the detailed rules for your jurisdiction/s - see links below.
All jurisdictions have in common that 10 units or points per year is the minimum mandatory/compulsory requirement with additional units required in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland for Accredited Specialists. A unit or point will generally equate to an hour of live or on-demand activity e.g. seminars, conferences, webinars, webcasts, podcasts.
However bear in mind there are other activities which can earn you units/points. For example, preparing and/or presenting at seminars and writing articles. Check the detailed rules for your state however. You should be aware that postgraduate study and attendance at longer courses such as legal practice management courses qualify for MCLE/CPD as long as the mandatory components have been covered within the 10 hours/points.
However some jurisdictions place limits on the number of units/points that can be claimed for these longer courses.
As well, all jurisdictions require some units/points to be undertaken in specific areas. Most usually you will need to do at least one unit/point of MCLE/CPD in these four areas each year:
- Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Practical Legal Ethics in Queensland)
- Practice Management and Business Skills (Legal Skills and Practice in WA)
- Professional Skills
- Substantive Law
In NSW, the mandatory requirements used to be known as Rule 42 and now are under Rule 57 of the Solicitors' Rules.
And the variations to be aware of
However, in NSW you will also need to undertake - every three years - at least one hour of MCLE/CPD in the areas known more commonly as Regulation 176 requirements, which include:
- harassment and/or OHS
And in Victoria, you will need to have done each year, an hour of CPD in an area of substantive law.
In Western Australia though, it is slightly different. Depending on how long you have been in practice, you will need to do either 2 or 4 CPD points in both of areas 1. and 2.
Make sure you have the right mix of units/points
You also need to be aware of the type of MCLE/CPD you undertake as there are rules around the composition of the 10 hours/points. For example, iIn most jurisdictions, private study of recorded materials (webcasts and podcasts) will be limited to a maximum of 5 hours in any MCLE/CPD year.
In some states there is a limit on how many units/points you can accrue for a single activity. For example in Victoria you cannot claim more than 6 CPD units for one attendance at a seminar or conference.
Carry over of units/points
The good news is that most jurisdictions will allow you to carry over any units/points gained in the period 1 January to 31 March into the following year, however this is limited to one year only. So if you find you really want to attend that seminar/webinar/conference but you already have your units or points, don't worry as you can count the extras for the following year.
Have you been admitted to practice in the last year?
Most jurisdictions provide a sliding scale of units/points for new lawyers depending on how recently you were admitted to practice. Again, you should check your local rules to make sure you know how many you need to obtain.
Please check the full details for your jurisdiction: