With the third year of mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) ending on 31 March, one emerging trend has been for lawyers to form study groups as part of their development programmes.
The deadline for making a declaration of compliance with the CPD requirements is next Friday, 7 April.
New Zealand Law Society Professional Development Manager Ken Trass says some lawyers get together in groups once a month or so and take turns in presenting on a particular topic.
“It costs them nothing apart from their time. They are sharing expertise, are interactive and have good discussion which leads to effective learning.”
Mr Trass says as well as these informal sessions lawyers are also attending webinars in higher numbers.
But he also says that some more traditional modes of learning remain the same three years into CPD, such as in-house learning and attending courses.
“There is more interest in firms becoming self-auditing because they can see the value in being able to do that internally and they can make sure that people’s learning aligns with the firm’s vision and strategy. That’s a powerful thing.”
Mr Trass says there have been significant numbers of declarations following Law Society reminders of the need to complete these in the stipulated time.
He says lawyers are identifying what is important to them and shaping their learning around that.
The inquiries which lawyers direct to the Law Society about CPD are changing, Mr Trass says.
“During the first year of CPD in 2014, a lot of lawyers were finding their way and understanding how to apply the rules. Last year a lot of inquiries were around clarifying what activities they could count.
“This year there are a lot more queries than usual from new lawyers asking what hours apply to them given they haven’t been practising for a full year.
“There’s still some misconceptions out there such as that only certain accredited formal courses or courses regarding black letter law count which is not the case."
Some CPD details
More information about what can be part of a lawyer's CPD is available in the CPD section on the Law Society website.
The CPD model is high trust and no documents need to be submitted to NZLS unless a lawyer is audited. Lawyers who are unable to locate their verification can provide an explanation if they are audited.
To complete the declaration, lawyers need to log into Law Society Registry with their lawyer ID (included on their practising certificate and in their copy of LawPoints).
Once logged in, select the "CPD" option. Completion of the process involves ticking the box for the current CPD year. Click on "Save" to complete the declaration.