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What’s the point of CPD?

What’s the point of CPD?

By Steven Sapountsis

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Belonging to a learned profession carries with it certain obligations and responsibilities.

Bearing in mind the imminent end of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) year on 31 March 2016, here is a brief reminder of why we must make sure we fulfil our CPD requirements, and how to get the most out of every CPD offering.

In April 2014, the LIV Council adopted the Code of Ethics which summarised the ethical obligations under which our members practise. The code specifies that, as members of the profession, we must act competently and diligently in the service of our clients.

Further, the Uniform Law provides that “. . . [one] of the objectives of this Law [is] to promote the administration of justice and an efficient and effective Australian legal profession, by –
(b) ensuring lawyers are competent and maintain high ethical and professional standards in the provision of legal services . . .”     
The attainment and maintenance of high professional standards is further reinforced by the CPD (Solicitor) Rules 2015. As I am sure you are aware, practitioners must complete a minimum of 10 CPD units each CPD year, including at least one CPD unit in each of the following four fields:

  • Ethics and professional responsibility
  • Practice management and business skills
  • Professional skills
  • Substantive law.

The rules set out 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.

Remember, you are responsible for assessing your CPD activities and allocating them against the CPD fields to ensure you have met your CPD obligations. If in doubt, please contact the LIV CPD Compliance team.

For some time, I have been in the fortunate position of achieving my necessary (and more) CPD points throughout the year. However, it is also the case that, for any number of reasons a practitioner will look to intensive CPD offerings in February and March to complete –or augment– their CPD requirements.

Here are some tips to survive – and thrive – at CPD events, particularly at full day offerings:

  • Start strong: Come prepared with a fully charged iPad or fresh notebook and pen. Power banks are particularly useful to take along to charge your phone/tablet.
  • Take notes: This will help you later when you summarise your CPD, particularly if you are audited at a later date and have to provide evidence of your professional development. You are usually always provided with a Conference Booklet which is another good resource to keep in case of audit and for future reference.
  • Go with an attitude of expectation, not obligation: What will you get out of this? What kind of advice or tips might you learn that could help you acquire new clients or deliver better client service? If you go looking forward to learning, the chance of actually learning increases. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you leave with the key learnings you wanted to get out of the day.
  • Bring your business card: You won’t be the only one at the conference or program. Networking is integral to a lawyer’s success (particularly for barristers) and there are plenty of opportunities during a day-long conference to shake some hands, discuss your skills and broaden your professional network.
  • Get on social media: All LIV events use the hashtag #LIVEvents. So if you’re on Twitter, why not tweet some key points from the session. Follow the speakers and other people you meet on Twitter, and add them on LinkedIn. Then if you have a question or an idea about the topic discussed in future, you can easily share it.
  • Specify dietary needs: Full day activities at the LIV provide two teas and a lunch – sometimes even a dinner. If you have special dietary requirements, don’t forget to notify the organisers.

The LIV always increases its professional development offerings at this time of year, and the CPD Intensive is the main event. CPD for 13 streams of law is being held across two days in mid-March, including a new practice management stream entitled Using Technology for Business Success.

All the best with fulfilling your CPD requirements and I look forward to meeting many of you at upcoming LIV CPD sessions and events.

If you have any other tips on making the most of your CPD, please leave a comment below.

Steven Sapountsis, 2016 LIV President


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