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The CPD Rules apply to all lawyers. The Rules require you to take responsibility for developing and implementing your own CPD plan. This includes undertaking, recording, documenting and reflecting on a minimum of 10 hours of CPD activities each CPD year, including any mandatory component required by the Law Society.
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All lawyers who provide regulated services (as defined by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006) or hold themselves out as being willing or available to do so (see Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Ongoing Legal Education—Continuing Professional Development) Rules 2013), are required to complete at least 10 hours of CPD activities during each full CPD year (1 April – 31 March). Lawyers who do not provide regulated services for a full year may pro-rate their requirements as set out in Schedule 1 of the CPD Rules.
|Months* providing regulated services||Hours of CPD to complete|
* please note that periods are rounded up or down to the nearest month.
The requirement is a minimum requirement. A sizeable proportion of New Zealand lawyers already complete more than 10 hours of CPD each year, and there is no maximum or limit for particular CPD activities.
Under rule 6.2 if you complete in excess of the minimum ten hours, you may carry forward and attribute up to five CPD hours to the next CPD year.
Lawyers who hold a practising certificate but do not provide regulated services are not required to complete any hours of CPD activities, but still need to prepare a CPDPR and to file declarations to that effect.
Each lawyer is required to develop and maintain a written CPD plan, and to record, document, reflect on and verify their CPD activities. These documents are known collectively as the “CPD Plan and Record” – the CPDPR.
The CPDPR is developed and maintained by:
Example CPDPRs and templates can be found in the CPD toolkit.
While there is no prescribed format for the CPDPR, it must meet the requirements set out in rule 5.
You must retain your CPDPR for three years.
You must use your professional judgement to decide if an activity appears to align with your CPDPR and delivers worthwhile outcomes for you. The Law Society will not accredit activities as “one size” does not necessarily fit all. What is relevant and worthwhile for one lawyer may not be for another. However, the Law Society may require that you complete a mandatory component.
There is no limit to the number of hours you can count for taking part in any one activity.
You are responsible for verifying your attendance at CPD activities. There are a number of ways you may do this depending on the type of activity. Suggestions as to how you may verify your CPD activities are listed below.
You may count CPD activities required by:
towards your CPD requirements provided they comply with the definition of activities in the Rules.
Depending on your individual learning needs, preferred learning style, experience and the various activities available to you, you may choose to complete the required hours in a number of ways, for instance:
You may count distance learning programmes you complete online or through a variety of media, including written material, providing they include an interactive/feedback component, for instance through:
You may verify you undertook a distance learning programme through a certificate of completion or an equivalent which may be issued automatically online or sent by the organiser.
This could include (but is not confined to) writing law books, articles or papers intended for publication or to be included in course materials for:
As with teachers, writers learn from the research they do and from the insights and ideas they develop as they reflect on their subject matter. If a writing activity does not require this sort of engagement it would not qualify. You will need to use your professional judgement about this.
Writing offers an opportunity for interaction and evaluation in many ways, for instance through comments from editors, colleagues, reviewers and your targeted readers, either orally or in writing.
You might verify your writing activities through:
These should be accompanied by a record of the time you spent.
You should not count writing which is part of your regular employment as a lawyer.
You may count preparing as a lead or major drafter and presenting submissions on proposed reforms of the law or of legal processes and procedures on behalf of the Law Society, a legal association or similar in an objective manner. You could verify law reform activities by:
The above records should be accompanied by a record of the time you spent.
You should not count preparing and presenting formal submissions
In any given year, the Law Society may require that you complete a mandatory CPD component. You will be notified if there is to be a mandatory component.
You can count any topic which you can relate to your learning needs as set out in your CPD plan and which would assist you to carry out your work as a lawyer, including:
The following do not fall within the definition of activities:
Private study is, however, an essential means of keeping up to date. All lawyers are encouraged to complete a minimum of 50 hours of self-study each CPD year. You could choose to record your self-study in your CPD plan but you are not required to.
Read the CPD Facilitators Guide
Lawyers will need to be able to show that they have participated in each CPD activity through an attendance record, certificate, receipt, letter, firm record or other means. Forms and receipts should be signed by the participant and counter-signed by the organiser or a named participant. Completion certificates, attendance records, letters from organisers and assessment results are also likely to be used for verification.
Declarations of compliance with the CPD Rules must be filed by every lawyer with a current practising certificate for each CPD year (which ends 31 March). Lawyers completing their CPD requirements before the end of the year may file their declarations early.
The Rules allow for a late declaration to be filed, however lawyers who do not complete their CPD requirements may be referred to a standards committee.
If you hand back your practising certificate (eg, to travel overseas, sabbatical, retirement, parental leave) part way through a yearly period and you do not intend to return to practice before the end of that year, you are encouraged to file a CPD declaration. If you do resume practice before the end of that yearly period you may need to withdraw your declaration. You will be able to do this easily online.
Likewise, if you cease practice or retire, but may decide to return to practice sometime in the future, you should file a CPD declaration.
If you have outstanding CPD requirements when you cease practising they will still be there when you resume practice. This includes any mandatory requirement. It may be possible to get the CPD requirements deferred but you will still have to complete them.
Because CPD is a very important element in legal practice, there will be no exemptions. A deferment may be possible in exceptional circumstances.
Application for a deferment of CPD requirements to a subsequent practice year
CPD declarations are made on the Law Society's Registry.
Under exceptional circumstances, you can apply for permission to defer the CPD requirements.
The New Zealand Law Society can audit any lawyer’s compliance with the CPD Rules. It is intended that the audit process is supportive and non-punitive. However, false declarations of compliance will be reported to a lawyers standards committee.
Organisations may be able to apply for self-auditing status. This can enable them to integrate CPD with in-house or in-firm performance appraisal schemes.