06 April 2020

How has COVID-19 changed CPD/CLE for lawyers in Australia?

Published on 06 April 2020

Coronavirus lockdowns are now in place across Australia, sending every lawyer home to setup a work-from-home office and stress-test the mettle of their internet connection. In response, law societies in every state and territory have adjusted their continuing professional development (CPD) / continuing legal education (CLE) requirements to ensure legal practitioners can still comply with the CPD obligations in 2020. Insights has compiled a checklist of key changes by jurisdiction to help keep practising lawyers up to date with the new CPD rules.

New South Wales

Below is an outline of key changes for legal practitioners in New South Wales.

Reduced Law Society of NSW membership fees: $10 per legal practitioner for the 2020/2021 practising year. This is a one-off measure. Regular fees are $410 per practising year.

Caps lifted on private study: Legal practitioners can now satisfy all CPD requirements through private study of audio/visual material. Previously, private study was capped at 5 CPD units.

Read the full address from Richard Harvey, NSW Law Society President.

 

Victoria

Below is an outline of key changes for Victorian legal practitioners.

No face-to-face CPDs: Due to coronavirus social distancing measures, legal practitioners will not be required to undertake any face-to-face CPD activities.

Caps lifted on private study: Legal practitioners can now satisfy all CPD requirements through private study of audio/visual material. Previously, private study was capped at 5 CPD units.

Undertake multimedia or web-based programs (i.e. webinars): Legal practitioners can also elect to participate in multimedia or web-based programs, for which there is no unit cap.

According to the the official statement from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, these programs are considered “distinct from private study of relevant audio/visual material where they take place in real time and/or involve an interactive element.”

Beyond webinars, some innovative lawyers are now delivering CPDs via Instagram and Facebook Live to help practitioners upskill or keep up to date with specific areas of law.

Hardship/llness exemptions: If Victorian legal practitioners are unable to meet their CPD obligations due to illness or other special circumstances, they may seek exemptions from undertaking CPD activities in full or in part. Exemption applications are processed by the Law Institute of Victoria or the Victorian Bar as normal.

Read the full statement from the Victorian Legal Services board and Commissioner here.

 

Queensland

Below is an outline of key changes for legal practitioners in Queensland.

Deadline extended to 30 June 2020: Legal practitioners now have until 30 June 2020 to complete their CPD requirements. The new CPD year still comments on 1 April 2020; any CPD points accrued between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020 can be attributed to the 2019/20 year or the 2020/21 year.

Further information is available here and a Q&A of common questions is available here.

 

South Australia

Below is an outline of key changes for South Australian legal practitioners.

Deadline extended to 30 June 2020: Legal practitioners now have until 30 June 2020 to complete their CPD requirements.

Caps lifted on recorded materials: Legal practitioners can now satisfy all CPD requirements through viewing or listening to material for a multi-media, web-based or recorded program. Previously, these activities were capped at 5 CPD units.

Hardship exemptions: If South Australian legal practitioners are unable to meet their MCPD obligations due ‘prescribed circumstances’, they can apply for a reduction in the MCPD they are required to complete.

Undertake CPD online (e.g. webinars): Legal practitioners are advised to participate in alternative CPD programs which do not involve a face-to-face component. This can include webinars.

Further information on MCPD obligations is available here and COVID-19 resources for legal practitioners are available here.

 

Western Australia

Below is an outline of key changes for legal practitioners in Western Australia.

Caps lifted on non-interactive materials: Legal practitioners can now satisfy all CPD requirements through viewing or listening to material pre-recorded material. Previously, these activities were capped at 4 CPD units.

Undertake interactive CPD activities online (e.g. webinars, events): Legal practitioners are advised to participate in alternative CPD programs which do not involve a face-to-face component. This can include events, webinars, and other online activities which involve an interactive component.

llness exemptions: If legal practitioners are unable to meet their CPD obligations due to illness, they may submit an application for variation of the required CPD points. Further information is here.

Further information from the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia is available here.

 

Australian Capital Territory

Below is an outline of key changes for legal practitioners in the Australian Capital Territory.

No face-to-face CPDs: Due to coronavirus social distancing measures, all face-to-face CPD activities conducted by the ACT Law Society have been cancelled.

Deadline extensions available to 30 September 2020: Legal practitioners must apply for extension, which may be granted up to and including 30 September 2020. The Application of Extension is available here.

New online courses to help complete CPD from home: Legal practitioners may complete a new series of online courses provided by the ACT Law Society. These courses help legal practitioners work through the obstacles presented by working remotely. Webinars are released weekly and are available to watch any time after the release date.

Read the full statement from the ACT Law Society here.

 

Northern Territory

Below is an outline of key changes for legal practitioners in the Northern Territory.

Caps lifted on private study: Legal practitioners can now satisfy all CPD requirements through private study of audio/visual material. Previously, private study was capped at 5 CPD units.

Undertake interactive CPD activities online (e.g. webinars, events): Legal practitioners are advised to participate in alternative CPD programs which do not involve a face-to-face component. According to the Law Society Northern Territory, this can include “web streaming, DVDs, contributing to a professional journal such as Balance e-magazine, interstate and overseas conferences, attending lectures or writing assignments or theses as part of post graduate study.”

Read the full statement from the Law Society Northern Territory here.

 

Tasmania

Below is an outline of key changes for legal practitioners in Tasmania.

Deadline extended to 30 April 2020: This blanket extension for CPD applies for all Tasmanian legal practitioners who were affected by COVID-19 disruption.

Caps lifted on viewing and listening to online media/recorded material: Caps lifted on viewing and listening to online media/recorded material: Legal practitioners can now satisfy all CPD requirements by viewing and listening to online media or recorded material. This applies for the CPD year 2019/2020.

New online courses to help complete CPD from home: The Law Society of Tasmania will be offering a selection of sessions to help legal practitioners complete CPD from home. These will include practice management and substantive law CPDs to help navigate the uncertainties arising from COVID-19.

Read more from the Tasmanian Law Society here.