Today, 7 April, is the last day for all lawyers to complete their Continuing Professional Development declaration, and the response so far has been staggering with an over 90% uptake.
The CPD Rules designed by the New Zealand Law Society require lawyers to:
- complete a minimum of 10 appropriate hours of CPD activities each year;
- develop and maintain a written CPD plan and record (CPDPR); including
- reflecting and evaluating on their professional learning.
The CPD year runs from 1 April to 31 March, with declarations required to be completed by 7 April.
The Law Society's professional development manager, Ken Trass, says the uptake by lawyers is outstanding and slightly ahead of last year.
"If lawyers have obtained their practising certificate for the first time between the 16th and 31st of March, they'll still need to complete a declaration. They may find that in looking at the CPD rules http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2013/0320/latest/DLM5542501.html – specifically schedule 1 of the rules - that their requirement may be pro-rated," he says.
Mr Trass says if some lawyers are ceasing practice, they can't sit still and do nothing.
"They need to contact our Registry team personally about that. If they do not, they still have an expectation as a practising lawyer to complete the CPD requirements and declaration," he says.
In Wellington, young lawyers who'll likely work in the sector well into the future support the Continuing Professional Development initiative.
The Wellington Young Lawyers Committee convenor Rebecca Garden, who is also an Assistant Crown Counsel, says it's a sensible requirement.
"I think it is a good way of encouraging people to stay up-to-date and learn new skills. For a young lawyer, learning is obviously particularly important and I suspect that CPD means there is increased focus on development for young lawyers.
"From my perspective, I'm able to attend in-house seminars, but have also gone to training workshops in areas in which I have a particular interest.
"I also think the CPD requirement, in particular the plan and record, encourages more active participation and learning, which I believe is helpful," she says.
However Ken Trass says there have been some issues with some lawyers over the requirement.
"Leaving the CPD to the last minute and rightly complaining that it feels compliance driven – which would not be the case if CPD was done earlier, although I'm aware that predominantly some new lawyers are unaware of the CPD rules and had not looked at our Law Society resources," he says.