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Review of the current CPD requirements for lawyers in Victoria
In June and July of 2020 we commissioned an independent consultant, Mr Chris Humphreys, to conduct a review of the current CPD arrangements in Victoria. The review heard from over 170 organisations and individuals about the how the system in Victoria could be improved to enable the legal profession to have meaningful, relevant and accessible learning opportunities that enrich the quality of legal services provided to the Victorian community.
The review found that while the CPD system is not broken, it needs improvement to reflect more contemporary approaches to adult learning and professional development.
In a key finding, the report recommends a competency framework for lawyers be developed to give greater weight to the whole basket of skills that are needed for contemporary legal practice, and to shift the focus of activity from compliance to genuine learning and development. The competency framework would complement the current 10 point minimum threshold requirements.
The report, ‘Getting the Point? Review of Continuing Professional Development for Victorian Lawyers’ provides 28 recommendations for change, including:
- development of a competency framework that describes the core skills for practising lawyers, differentiated by levels of experience and expertise
- production of resources for lawyers that provide information, guidance and templates about CPD activities, including reflective practice and planning
- working with the Law Institute, Victorian Bar and CPD providers to identify ways in which more effective, customised activities can be designed and delivered
- raising the profile and strengthening the resources available for CPD in key areas such as technology and the law, sexual harassment, family violence, diversity and inclusion, and health and wellbeing
- improving the approach to CPD Ethics programs
- developing a more active approach to identifying risk and linking CPD programs to identified risks
- using the CPD audit process to gather better information about risk and lawyers’ use of CPD
- establishing a CPD Steering Committee with representatives from the Law Institute, Victorian Bar, lawyers not in private practice, and an academic or other expert to implement the review’s recommendations, in consultation with other stakeholders and
- strengthening and re-orienting the profession’s culture of learning through leadership and communication of the new approaches.
There are also some recommendations aimed at clarifying and broadening the CPD topics and options available for those lawyers working in the corporate, government and community sector.
We thank everyone who contributed to the review and took the time to share their experiences and views, and to engage in the conversation. In particular we would like to thank the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar for their strong and enthusiastic support of the review from its commencement, and for providing us with extensive and expert assistance during the consultation phase. There were many more stakeholders who went to significant effort to advance the review, notably the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee, Professional Standards Councils and the major CPD providers, and we thank them for their time and important input.
We also congratulate our independent consultant, Mr Chris Humphreys for this important, comprehensive and measured report. We are grateful to Chris for the high levels of engagement generated and fostered with our stakeholders and the legal profession and for the considered and thoughtful manner in which the review was conducted.
We will now consider the report’s implications, engage with our stakeholders, consider the actions we will take and develop a regulatory response for discussion in early 2021.
You can read a copy of the report here.
About the CPD review
We commissioned an independent consultant, Mr Chris Humphreys, to conduct a review of the current CPD arrangements in Victoria in accordance with the Terms of Reference. The review aimed to engage with a broad range of lawyers and other stakeholders from all backgrounds and at every stage of their career to provide input. The Law Institute of Victoria and Victorian Bar also provided support to the review.
An Issues Paper was developed outlining the issues under consideration. Some of the topics considered were barriers to accessing CPD, the mandatory subject fields, learning formats, quality, and compliance and enforcement. The Issues Paper also contained some consultation questions to help facilitate important dialogue on these topics. A short Executive Summary also provided an overview of the issues that were being canvassed. Focus groups were also held for particular cohorts of lawyers.
You can read copies of the submissions here.
About Chris Humphreys
Chris Humphreys is a qualified lawyer who has practised in the private, community law and public sectors. He worked for the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety for over 25 years, principally in policy roles. He has worked on all of the legislative schemes governing legal profession regulation since 1991. He was the Director of Civil Justice Policy for 15 years, and was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2017 for his work on civil law reform and human rights. He was also responsible for the Victorian Government Legal Services Panel. Chris has developed extensive networks with government entities and within the legal profession. He has a strong record of working collaboratively with stakeholders and is well suited to undertake this important review.