New Zealand Law Society

Navigation menu

Time for a CPD warrant of fitness

01 December 2017 - By Ken Trass

Recently I received in the mail a friendly reminder that my car needs a service and WOF. And, like your vehicle, it’s important to have regular check-ins with how your CPD is progressing and if anything needs servicing. We know from experience that if we have neglected that maintenance then, come WOF time, we’re more likely to uncover issues needing repair, often within a tight timeframe.

Looking under the hood of the CPD programme

The CPD programme is rapidly approaching its fourth cycle. The CPD scheme was launched in October 2013 and requires each lawyer to maintain a CPD plan and record and submit a yearly declaration confirming that their plan is compliant with the CPD rules.

This year 99.87% of the profession made timely CPD declarations and, of the 1382 CPD plans that were audited, 83% were fully compliant with the CPD rules.

This third round of CPD audits, shows that the vast majority of the legal profession are engaging fully in CPD and, importantly, recognising its value as a tool to help maintain professional competence.

Many of the CPD plans submitted this year displayed far more structure in the planning and reflection aspects than in previous years with many lawyers focusing on considering how to get the most value out of their learning activities long-term. More lawyers are also being more selective in what they record on their plan with a larger number focusing their energies on one or two areas of learning that were of most importance to them.

Parts and materials

NZLS has been fine-tuning its CPD resources, adjusting these to keep CPD moving forward.

What NZLS is driving for is an educative and supportive approach to help embed and engage the profession in what CPD is all about – increasing reflective practice, self-directed learning, and professional competence. Many lawyers have reported that this approach has been appreciated.

Over the last three years NZLS has communicated with a large number of the profession to give guidance and support relating to CPD matters with the following being the main areas of focus:

  • The flexibility of the CPD programme,
  • The components of a CPDPR and what a CPD declaration means,
  • The need for careful and specific planning regarding your learning, and
  • Approaches for developing reflective practice skills.

Fine-tuning your CPD engine

We are now two thirds of the way through the 2017-18 CPD year. This is a good time to review your CPDPR (CPD plan and record).

To remain competent as a practising lawyer, it’s important to keep reviewing how you are developing as a legal professional and how this is translating into practice and, ultimately, the client experience. Quarterly reviews are a good start.

In reviewing your CPD plan, the following questions may assist:

  • What activities have I planned for in this year’s CPD Plan?
  • Why did I select these activities and how will they help my practice? How will I assess this?
  • Have the activities selected had the intended effect, tangible or intangible? What is my evidence for this?
  • How are the activities I am engaged in enhancing my competence and the quality of legal services that I deliver to my clients? How will I know this?
  • Have I met my goals and objectives? If not, where am I up to so far?
  • What further learning or professional development is required in any of my identified areas?
  • How is this information linked to what I completed last year and what did I/will I carry forward?

The answers to these questions may mean your learning plan now changes.

When you are planning your learning, you may be choosing learning goals that traverse two or more CPD years – that is fine so long as your yearly minimum (reflecting on a minimum of 10 hours) is met. Your CPD plan can also be on many levels:

  • Short-term activities that you’re planning for this CPD year that help meet an identified need (or part need),
  • Activities that you are considering, or have planned but not yet fully completed, or
  • Learning goals that have not yet been met, or that are awaiting appropriate activities to present themselves so they can be completed.

Goal-setting with measurable outcomes can assist in the above process. It is important, in the development of CPD, to plan, implement, evaluate and reflect.

Things to check off before you drive away

  • Your CPDPR is up to date, including: your identified learning needs, and reasons for them and your personal written reflections on each completed activity.
  • You have set aside time in your calendar to revisit your CPDPR before March 2018 to ensure you can make a timely declaration.
  • You are on track to declare on or before 31 March 2018.

Some NZLS support resources are:

  • 4 movies (1500+ views)
  • 1 archived webinar (1100+ views)
  • Guidelines to the rules
  • CPD planning template
  • CPDPR exemplars
  • 10 LawTalk articles
  • Extensive FAQs

We’ve connected with:

  • 4,400 lawyers via CPD audits
  • Over 3,000 lawyers through the 2016 review of CPD

Last updated on the 1st December 2017