CPD Seminar
20 February 2017

How to make the most of your CPD

Published on 20 February 2017

With only a few weeks to go until the end of the ‘CPD year’ (31 March), completing your 10 CPD unit requirements might be one task on an ever-growing to-do list. To help you make the most of your CPD, Insights has put together a quick checklist of what counts for CPD, and how you can ensure you choose CPD options that help you up-skill and further your career.

What counts as CPD?

Broadly speaking, the following activities may be considered compliant for CPD purposes. However, depending on the state or territory in which you practise, you may need to be judicious as to which activities you choose – some activities have capped hours. For example, in Queensland, working on a legal article is capped at 5 CPD units per year, which equates to 5000 words worth of an article.

In most Australian states and territories, you need 10 ‘CPD units’; a unit is calculated in hours or words, depending on the activity.

  1. A seminar, workshop, lecture, conference, discussion group, multimedia or web-based program. This seems to be one of the preferred methods of obtaining CPD as there are no limits on the number of CPD units you may obtain via this activity.
  2. Research, preparation or editing of an article in a legal publication, legal article in a non-legal publication, or Law Report or similar legal service.
  3. Preparation or presentation of written/oral material to be used for legal education – to solicitors, for example as CPD courses or as guidance for practical/supervised legal training, or to other professionals.
  4. Membership of a committee, taskforce or practice section of a professional association. To comply, work performed must substantially relate to the law, assist the solicitor’s professional development, and involve the solicitor regularly attending meetings.
  5. Postgraduate studies related to the needs of a solicitor’s practice. For example, this might involve an LLM.
  6. Private study is counted only if it involves the use of audio/visual material specifically intended to help update a solicitor’s knowledge or practice management needs.

What should you consider when choosing your CPD?

There are four main issues to consider:

  • The subject matter of your CPD activities
  • The type of CPD activities you undertake
  • What you would like to learn
  • Where you are practising law

Different states and territories have different requirements when it comes to the mix of subject matter and activities you must complete per year. In terms of subject matter, this usually involves a unit from the following areas:

In accordance with the Legal Profession Uniform Continuing Professional Development (Solicitors) Rules 2015, legal practitioners in New South Wales and Victoria need to include a unit of substantive law in their annual CPD.

In a practical sense, the type of CPD activities you undertake matter because in some jurisdictions, certain CPD activities are capped. For these jurisdictions, it is probably best to start with capped activities – for example, do you have any articles or presentations which deal with substantive law, professional skills, practice management or ethics? Do you have any relevant committee experience which might count towards CPD?

From here, it is worth asking broader, more pragmatic questions. What are your knowledge gaps in substantive law or practice management? Is there an area of substantive law which you’re looking to update or specialise? Consider how emerging trends might affect future legal needs – for example, how Australia’s retiring baby boomers may cause a demographic surge in demand for succession law, wills and estate planning.

Determining the specific CPD requirements for your state or territory will help determine the subject matter and type of CPD activities you need to undertake.

For further information on the specific CPD requirements for your state or territory, and for forms to help you log your hours:

NSW: Law Society of New South Wales

VIC: Law Institute of Victoria

SA: Law Society of South Australia

WA: Legal Practice Board of Western Australia

NT: Law Society Northern Territory

TAS: Law Society of Tasmania

QLD: Queensland Law Society

Interested in ways to complete your CPD? The College offers face-to-face, webinar and online, on-demand seminars across a range of practice areas.

When you do your CPD with us, you’ll learn from industry leaders across Family, Litigation, Migration, Property, Business and Wills & Estates Law. Have a look at our CPD programs.