Continuing professional development
Continuing professional development
Continuing professional development (CPD) is designed to help you keep your knowledge and skills up to date. If you hold a current practising certificate, you must complete 10 hours of CPD activities each year. The CPD year runs from 1 April through to 31 March of the following year.
You can apply for an exemption from some or all of your CPD hours under certain circumstances (see Exemptions below).
Updates for the 2019-20 practising year
We understand that some lawyers may be concerned about complying with CPD requirements in light of developments with COVID-19. For example, face-to-face CPD events may be cancelled, or you may be following advice to practise social distancing or work remotely.
In light of these circumstances, for the remainder of the CPD year ending 31 March 2020, you will not need to undertake any CPD activity requiring face-to-face or public interaction, e.g. seminars, workshops, lectures, committees, conferences and discussion groups.
While you must still complete 10 units of CPD by 31 March 2020, you can do through private study of relevant audio/visual material. For this CPD year, we will not be enforcing the 5 unit cap on this CPD format as set out in the CPD Rules for Solicitors.
For this year only, you can tick the ‘Yes’ box even if, due to the special circumstances arising from COVID-19, you have exceeded the 5 unit cap on private study of audio/visual material to complete your required 10 CPD units. The PC renewal process will then proceed as normal.
Bushfire affected lawyers
Bushfire-affected lawyers may also be concerned about meeting CPD requirements.
If you live or work in a bushfire-affected area you can also complete your 10 units of CPD via private study of relevant audio/visual material (as outlined above).
Alternatively, if you cannot fulfil the 10 units of CPD and live or work in a bushfire-affected area, you will be fully exempted from the requirement to undertake CPD activities for the CPD year ending 31 March 2020. If you would like an exemption, please select ‘No’ when completing your PC renewal in answer to the CPD compliance question. The LIV (or the Victorian Bar for barristers) will then contact you on our behalf to arrange an exemption.
Other lawyers who are unable to comply with CPD requirements
If you are unable to comply with your CPD obligations for other reasons (e.g. illness or other special circumstances) you can seek an exemption from the requirement to undertake CPD activities in full or in part. These applications for exemption are processed by the LIV or the Victorian Bar as normal.
The CPD rules for barristers and the rules for solicitors outline the accepted types of activity you can undertake and claim CPD points for.
The Rules explain that you must complete at least one hour in each of the following four fields:
- ethics and professional responsibility;
- practice management and business skills;
- professional skills; and
- substantive law.
You must also keep a record of all the CPD activities you complete for at least three years.
When you apply to renew your practising certificate, you must declare whether you’ve met your CPD obligations for the year. If you haven’t met your obligations, you should provide details of any exemptions granted to you, or include a rectification plan with your renewal application (see ‘Making up for missed CPD’ below).
Each year the Victorian Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) carry out audits of lawyers’ CPD compliance on our behalf. Our Continuing Professional Development Policy outlines how they exercise these powers. These ‘verification audits’ can cover the most recent CPD year, or any of the three previous years.
If you’re selected for an audit, you must verify within 21 days that you’ve met your CPD obligations. You can provide any of the following documents to prove you have attended each CPD session:
- your CPD attendance record; or
- supporting evidence (e.g. receipts, copies of presentation notes, copies of enrolment records or certificates of completion).
Making up for missed CPD
You can get an exemption from completing some or all of your CPD activities for the year under certain circumstances. Some reasons for exemption include:
● if you have a disability or you have suffered an illness;
● if you work in a remote area and do not have access to CPD resources; and
● if you work part time, or reduced hours.
To apply for an exemption, please contact the Victorian Bar (for barristers) or the LIV (for solicitors).
You can also get an exemption if you only practised for part of the CPD year. In this case you only need to complete CPD units for the time that you held a practising certificate. The pro-rata calculation table in the CPD rules will show you how many units you need to complete.
What happens if you don't complete your CPD?
If you don’t meet your CPD obligations, your practising certificate may not be renewed on time. We may wait until you have either met your obligations or established a rectification plan before processing your application.
In some circumstances, we may also consider disciplinary action against you which may affect your suitability to practise.