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Review of the current CPD requirements for lawyers in Victoria
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is fundamental for maintaining and enriching the quality of services delivered by lawyers to the Victorian community. Meaningful, relevant and accessible learning and development opportunities for all lawyers, regardless of their location, employer, practice area or level of seniority, are important for assuring clients and the community that lawyers are competent, ethical and able to uphold the rule of law. CPD is also important for helping the profession to adapt to the challenges of the changing legal services market.
While most lawyers recognise the value of professional development in maintaining and enhancing their skills, there is concern that the current points-based system tends to drive a compliance-focused ‘box ticking’ exercise, rather than a more considered pursuit of learning and development suited to an individual lawyer’s particular needs. We are also seeking to be more efficient, risk-based and outcomes-focused in our regulation of CPD compliance.
We want to hear from you about CPD
What is your experience of CPD in your career?
What are the strengths of the current system and what opportunities are there for improvement?
We have 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 is keen to hear from a broad range of lawyers and other stakeholders and encourages lawyers from all backgrounds and at every stage of their career to provide input. The Law Institute of Victoria and Victorian Bar are also providing support to the review.
An Issues Paper has been developed outlining the issues under consideration but no conclusions have been drawn. Some of the topics considered are barriers to accessing CPD, the mandatory subject fields, learning formats, quality, and compliance and enforcement. The Issues Paper also contains some consultation questions to help facilitate important dialogue on these topics. You can download these Consultation Questions separately for ease of completion, and return your feedback to the review via email. A short Executive Summary also provides an overview of the issues that are being canvassed. The review welcomes all contributions that your time and area of interest allow.
Focus groups will be held for particular cohorts of lawyers, so if you think this is something you would like to contribute to please contact CPDreview@lsbc.vic.gov.au.
EXTENDED: Submissions to the review can now be made anytime up to 5pm, 17 July 2020 to: CPDreview@lsbc.vic.gov.au.
We appreciate that it may be difficult for people to participate in focus groups, or complete the entire questionnaire given the circumstances with Covid-19, however would be very grateful for any response you are able to manage.
After submissions close and consultation is complete, Mr Humphreys will identify opportunities to improve CPD for Victorian lawyers. We anticipate that while some improvements could be directly implemented, others might have broader policy implications and will need to be considered and negotiated, including at the national level. We will agree and share a plan for improving CPD for Victorian lawyers as early as possible after receiving the review’s recommendations.
Respondents should feel free to submit answers to the consultation questions anonymously. All individual submissions made using the consultation questions will be de-identified and kept in strict confidence. The review might use de-identified comments in its report. It will be assumed that all institutional respondents and individual respondents who do not use the consultation questions consent to the use of their name and inclusion of their submission in the list of published submissions, unless otherwise advised.
We are conducting a number of in-depth group interviews of lawyers practising within particular cohorts (such as in-house counsel, lawyers from large firms, etc.) to gain as many perspectives as possible on the experience lawyers have with CPD and what they would like to see improved.
The focus groups of between 6 and 8 peers will be undertaken remotely via the Zoom video conferencing platform in the weeks beginning 6 and 13 July 2020 and sessions are expected to run for 1.5 hours. The groups will be led by our consultant, Mr Chris Humphreys. Sessions will be recorded and accessed by the VLSB+C and Mr Humphreys for the purposes of writing the Review report, but will not otherwise be made public, or shared outside of the VLSB+C, in any way. We will seek your permission to use any direct quote from you in the Review report.
If you would like to participate in a focus group, please email CPDreview@lsbc.vic.gov.au and outline in a few sentences why you want to be part of this review, your level of experience, main areas of practice and which group you would fit into below. Note we are now only seeking the below to attend focus groups as we have sufficient government, in-house and large law firm lawyers.
- Regional lawyers
- Suburban lawyers
- Small and sole practice
- Mid-tier firm lawyers
- Community lawyers
- Criminal/prosecutorial practice.
Depending on numbers, you may be placed on a waiting list. Please also let us know what dates you are unavailable on the weeks of 6 July and 13 July.
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.