Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Compliance

CPD obligations for solicitors
CPD rules and guidelines
Your CPD obligations under the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015
Certifying your CPD compliance
Verifying your CPD compliance (CPD audit)
Rectifying your CPD non-compliance
Applying for a CPD exemption
CPD Application for Exemption
Training Plan – if you returned to practice before 1 July 2015
Failing to comply with your CPD obligations
Previous CPD rules and policies
Regulation of CPD compliance
Contact us for further information

CPD obligations for solicitors

Legislation and rules governing the legal profession require all solicitors holding a current Practising Certificate to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) activities. This obligation applies equally to solicitors whether they are practising in Victoria or in other jurisdictions (interstate or overseas).

CPD rules and guidelines

New provisions governing CPD requirements for solicitors come into force on commencement of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria) on 1 July 2015.

From 1 July 2015, for solicitors in Victoria and NSW the Legal Profession Uniform Continuing Professional Development (Solicitor) Rules 2015 (CPD(Solicitor) Rules 2015) commence operation – all of your CPD obligations are set out in this one set of rules. Note that guidelines are in development to support interpretation of these rules. You should consult the new rules to ensure you have a thorough understanding of your CPD obligations:

Up to 30 June 2015, for Victorian solicitors the following rules and policies apply:

As the CPD year runs from 1 April to 31 March the following year, for the 2015/2016 year two sets of rules are applicable: the previous rules and policies apply up to 30 June, and then the CPD (Solicitor Rules 2015 will apply from 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2016.

A table setting out what has changed between the old and new rules is included in the LIV’s Legal Profession Uniform Law Guide.

Your CPD obligations under the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015

Minimum CPD requirements and CPD fields (Rules 5 and 6)

You must complete a minimum of 10 CPD units each CPD year, including at least at one CPD unit in each of the following four fields:

  • ethics and professional responsibility
  • practice management and business skills
  • professional skills
  • substantive law.

The CPD year runs from 1 April to 31 March in the following year.

You are responsible for assessing your CPD activities and allocating them against the CPD fields to ensure you have met your CPD obligations.

If you receive a part exemption or a pro rata obligation to complete CPD units applies to you (see information below), you must complete units in each of the CPD fields as part of your reduced CPD requirements.

The rules set out only your minimum compliance obligations regarding your professional development. These rules do not purport to prescribe or limit the amount of professional development you can or should undertake to ensure you stay up to date and can provide best practice services to your clients.

Pro rata calculations (Rule 10)

If you commence or recommence legal practice after the start of a CPD year, your requirement to complete CPD units for that year is reduced on a pro rata basis as follows:

Renewal month CPD units
April 10
May 9
June 8
July 7
August 6
September 5
October 4
November 3
December 2
January 1
February 0
March 0

You must complete these pro rata units during the balance of the CPD year.

CPD content (Rule 7)

For a professional development activity to count as CPD, the activity must:

  • be of significant intellectual or practical content and must deal primarily with matters related to your practice of law
  • be conducted by persons who are qualified by practical or academic experience in the subject covered and
  • extend your knowledge and skills in areas that are relevant to your practice needs or professional development.

You need to self-assess whether a professional development activity has met these requirements before you can claim it as a CPD activity. If you are subject to a CPD audit you will be required to explain your assessment for each activity.

Professional development providers or activities cannot be accredited under the rules.

CPD format (Rule 8)

You can claim professional development activities in the following formats as CPD activities:

  • seminars, workshops, lectures, conferences, discussion groups, multimedia or web-based programs, private study of audio/visual material or any other educational activities
  • research, preparation or editing of an article published in a legal publication, a legal article published in a non-legal publication, or published Law Reports or other legal services
  • preparation for and/or presentation of a CPD activity to solicitors and/or other professionals, including those undertaking practical or supervised legal training
  • membership of a legal committee, taskforce or practice section of a professional association, designated local regulatory authority or the LCA or of other committees, provided you regularly attend meetings, and the work performed is of substantial significance to the practice of law and will assist your professional development
  • post-graduate studies.

Private study is not a CPD activity except where it involves the private study of audio/visual material.

Calculating CPD units (Rule 9)

The following table sets out how CPD units are calculated, along with the maximum number of CPD units you can claim for each type of CPD activity each year:

Activity type 1 CPD unit equals Maximum units you can claim
Seminars, workshops etc. 1 hour No limit
Post-graduate study 1 hour No limit
Private study of audio / visual material 1 hour 5 units
Preparation / presentation of CPD activities 1 hour 5 units
Membership of a legal committee, taskforce or professional association practice section 2 hours 3 units
Research, preparation or editing of a legal article 1000 words 5 units

If you successfully complete an assessment for specialist accreditation, you will be deemed to have completed 10 units of CPD in the year you complete this assessment.

Rule change alert!

  • Previously in Victoria, as a member of an LIV Specialist Accreditation Advisory Committee you have been able to claim up to 5 CPD units for your committee membership, but this limit has been reduced to 3 CPD units under the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015 (which aligns with the general limit for committee membership).
  • Under the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015, there is no limit on the number of CPD units you can claim in one day (previously the limit in Victoria was 6 units per day).

Applying CPD units accrued to the following CPD year (Rule 11)

You can carry forward a maximum of 3 CPD units accrued in the period 1 January to 31 March from one CPD year into the next CPD year. The CPD units can only be counted in one CPD year. You will need to keep records of when you have accrued the CPD units and to which CPD year they will apply.

Rule change alert!

  • The ability to carry forward CPD units is a new provision in Victoria and will apply for the end of the 2015/2016 CPD year.

Record keeping (Rule 12)

For each CPD year you must maintain a record of your engagement in CPD activities and evidence of the CPD activities you have undertaken. If you are subject to a CPD audit, you will be required to produce your record and evidence.

You must retain your record and evidence for at least 3 years after the end of each CPD year. If you claim CPD units accrued in the period 1 January to 31 March in a subsequent year, you will need to include your record and evidence of these activities for that subsequent year.

  • Download a CPD Record form for recording your CPD activities.
  • LIV Members can maintain their CPD record online:
  • Login to your My LIV member portal
  • Once you are on your My LIV profile, click on the Review My CPD Units button

(Please note that evidence in support is required in the case of an audit for non-LIV CPD activities)

Certifiying your CPD compliance (Rule 13)

When renewing your Practising Certificate, you will be required to certify that you have complied with your CPD obligations for the previous CPD year. If you have not met your obligations, you must declare this with your renewal application. You should then take action to rectify your non-compliance – see information on this below.

Verifying your CPD compliance (Rule 14)

You may be required to verify your CPD compliance – you may be subject to an audit.

If you receive notice that you are required to verify your CPD compliance for a particular CPD year, you must comply within 21 days by providing your record and evidence. You must state how the CPD activities you claim satisfy the requirements of the Rules in terms of content, format, CPD fields covered and number of CPD units completed. You must also advise of any exemptions you have been granted for the relevant CPD year.

You may be required to verify your CPD compliance for the current or any of the three previous CPD years.

Rectifying non-compliance (Rule 15)

If you declare non-compliance with your CPD obligations, or if you fail to meet the requirement to certify or verify (audit), you will need to remedy your failure to complete your CPD obligations.

You can take immediate action to rectify your non-compliance by:

  • completing any outstanding units and advising you have done so, or
  • submitting a rectification plan.

If you take no action, you will receive a notice requiring you to submit a rectification plan within 21 days.

A rectification plan sets out how you will complete your outstanding CPD requirements within 90 days of submitting your plan.

You must comply with a rectification notice, and you must comply with the rectification plan you submit.

Your rectification plan and / or your advice of completion of your units must be forwarded to:

The Delegate of the Victorian Legal Services Board
CPD Compliance
Law Institute of Victoria Limited
GPO Box 263 C, Melbourne 3001
DX 350 Melbourne
Email: compliance@liv.asn.au

Applying for a CPD exemption (Rule 16)

You can apply for a part or full exemption from your requirement to complete CPD activities in a CPD year. Grounds under which you can apply for an exemption include:

  • Illness or disability
  • The location of your legal practice
  • Absence from practice, for example due to parenting leave or unemployment
  • Reduced hours of practice due to part time or casual employment
  • Circumstances require you to hold a Practising Certificate but you do not engage in legal practice
  • You have been in legal practice for more than 40 years and do not practice as a principal
  • Hardship or other special circumstances.

Exemptions for absence from practice, reduced hours or where a solicitor holds a Practicing Certificate but does not engage in legal practice will generally be granted on a pro rata basis.

Conditions may be imposed when an exemption is granted, and you must comply with the conditions.

Note that under the CPD (Solicitors) Rules 2015 the regulator does not have the ability to grant permanent exemptions.

Rule change alert!

  • The LPUCPDS Rules 2015 provides new grounds for an exemption to Victorian solicitors: you may now be eligible to apply if you:
    • have reduced hours of practice due to part time or casual employment
    • are required to hold a Practising Certificate but do not engage in legal practice
    • have been in practice for more than 40 years and do not practice as a principal.

CPD requirements if you do not hold a current PC or it has lapsed
For any period in which you do not hold a PC, there is no requirement to undertake CPD.

Eligibility to apply for an exemption from compliance with CPD requirements
You may apply for an exemption under Rule 16.3 and will need to provide evidence in support of your application.  Evidence may be in the form of a letter from your employer confirming your employment arrangements, with dates, a medical certificate or a statutory declaration.

The LIV, as delegate of the VLSB+C, will consider all evidence provided, together with your history of CPD compliance, previous exemptions granted, and period of absence from practice (if relevant), and will balance this against the community interest underpinning the CPD Scheme that all lawyers maintain high professional standards, in deciding whether to grant an exemption in each case.

Application for an exemption

Training Plan – if you returned to practice before 1 July 2015

Under the LIV CPD Rules 2008, if you did not hold a Practising Certificate for three or more consecutive CPD years and you returned to practice, you were required submit a Training Plan within 21 days of receipt of your Practising Certificate (see Rules 5.4 to 5.7 of the LIV CPD Rules 2008).

Training Plans are not required under the new CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015. Therefore this rule now only applies to a solicitor who returned to practice after a 3 year break and where the start date of their Practising Certificate fell before 1 July 2015. Note that as a consequence this rule does not apply to a government solicitor who has obtained a Practising Certificate to come into effect on or after 1 July 2015.

If you are required to submit a Training Plan you must provide the following information:

  • The length of time you have been absent from practice in Victoria
  • The reason/s for your absence from legal practice in Victoria
  • Details of your area/s of practice prior to your absence from legal practice
  • Your current or intended area/s of practice
  • Any other information which you consider relevant
  • Details of the CPD activities you will complete on your return to legal practice - you must complete 10 CPD units including the 4 compulsory fields within 6 months
  • The reason you consider each of these CPD activities will assist your return to legal practice.

You must then complete the CPD activities in your Training Plan within 6 months and and notify the LIV that you have done so. Any CPD units completed as part of your Training Plan may also be claimed towards your CPD obligations for the CPD year in which they were undertaken.

Your Training Plan and advice that it has been completed must be forwarded to:

The Delegate of the Victorian Legal Services Board
CPD Compliance
Law Institute of Victoria Limited
GPO Box 263 C, Melbourne 3001
DX 350 Melbourne
Email: compliance@liv.asn.au

Rule change alert!

  • Training Plans are no longer required under the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015.

Failing to comply with your CPD obligations

Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law, (Victoria), it is a statutory condition of a Practising Certificate that the holder must comply with the CPD rules. Contravening a condition of a certificate may be grounds for the variation, suspension or cancellation of a Practising Certificate. Conduct which is in contravention of the Uniform Rules can also be considered capable of constituting unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct. Note however that under the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015 (Rule 15), the regulator has discretion to allow you every opportunity to rectify any failure to comply or apply for an exemption if appropriate.

The following rules, explanatory notes and polices provide the full history of CPD compliance requirements for solicitors in Victoria:

Regulation of CPD compliance

The Victorian Legal Services Board (VLSB) is responsible for regulating solicitors’ compliance with their CPD obligations under the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Victoria), but the VLSB has delegated this function to the Law Institute of Victoria.

CPD regulatory functions are managed by the LIV’s CPD Compliance staff team.

The LIV’s Continuing Professional Development Compliance Advisory Committee (CPD CAC) has been established by the LIV Council under section 85 of the LIV Constitution to provide advice on CPD delegated powers and functions performed by the LIV for the VLSB. The CPD CAC provides advice on matters including:

  • Strategic, regulatory and compliance matters concerning CPD compliance regulation
  • Complex applications for exemption
  • Policy and rule wording and interpretation matters.
  • LIV Committees of Council

All enquiries regarding CPD compliance regulation should be initially addressed to the LIV’s CPD Compliance team.

Contact us for further information

CPD Compliance
Law Institute of Victoria Limited
GPO Box 263 C, Melbourne 3001
DX 350 Melbourne
Email: compliance@liv.asn.au
Telephone: (03) 9607 9328

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