Group study is defined in the Regulations as “an organised session of continuing professional development undertaken in a group of three or more persons that lasts for a period of not less than thirty minutes, whether undertaken by means of a lecture, workshop, seminar; tutorial, video-conferenced lecture/tutorial or diploma or certificate course or in such other manner as may be more particularly defined and specified in the Scheme”. The subject matter of the group study will determine whether it constitutes general CPD, management and professional development skills or regulatory matters.
Management and Professional Development Skills
A frequent difficulty experienced by solicitors relates to poor management (such as poor communication with clients or problems in financial management). For this reason at least Three hours of the total CPD cycle shall be spent on training in management and professional development skills. This is a broad heading and includes professional ethics, financial and business management, human resource management, budget control, practise management skills, computer skills, language enhancement relevant to the practice of law, professional ethics (also now falls within the “Regulatory Matters” category) , advocacy and client care. This list is not exhaustive.
With effect from January 2012 Regulatory Matters will be broadened to include both “professional ethics” and “risk management training”.
As training in “professional ethics” also falls withing the category of “management and professional development skills”, solicitors may now claim such training as part of their minimum CPD requireemnt of either CPD category “management and professional development skills” and/or regulatory matters.
Monitoring & Enforcement
Solicitors are asked to verify their compliance with the CPD Scheme on their practising certificates’ applications on an annual basis. Then, the Society may subsequently request sight of an applicant’s Record Card and/or proof of CPD attendances as part of the Society’s audit review process. Solicitors are asked not to return their record cards unless requested by the Society.
The Society will study a random sample of CPD record cards to check that the required hours of CPD have been completed and will take appropriate steps to verify that the solicitors in the sample selection have undertaken the group study part of the CPD. Group study may be verified by requesting the solicitor to produce proof of attendance or in the case of delivering a lecture by a request for a transcript of the lecture and the programme of the training event.
If a solicitor has not complied with the CPD regulations, he/she may be referred to the Education Committee in the first instance. At that time, an explanation shall be sought from the solicitor, they can be invited to interview and a further time for compliance may be granted. If a solicitor does not follow the direction of the Committee at that time, such continued failure to comply may be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal for investigation.
Solicitors in full time employment of the State are asked to verify their compliance with the CPD Scheme by 1 June each year, to the CPD Scheme Executive. They may be then requested to provide further proof of attendance as part of the audit review process that applies to all solicitors.
E-learning is a new feature of the revised CPD Scheme. E-learning is defined in the Regulations as the provision of education or training (or both) that is generated, communicated, sent, received, recorded, stored and/or displayed by electronic means or in electronic form and includes that provided through:
- the internet or other computer network connections
- by sound only, sound and vision or a combination of both
- by the provision of an electronic file, a CD-Rom and/or DVD
- and other technologies and formats as may be advised from time to time.
The form of e-learning undertaken must be in a verifiable format. For example, if you complete an online course there must be an online end of course assessment that can verify that learning took place, and/or a certificate that can be printed to show the online course was completed. Verification of completion of e-learning in whatever format undertaken is the responsibility of the solicitor who is claiming the hours, and will be reviewed by the Education Committee on an ongoing basis.
E-learning may occupy up to a maximum of two hours of the annual ten hour requirement on an individual basis.
Law Society E-Learning Courses
Enrol and gain CPD points online, prices vary.
Writing relevant material that is published
Written relevant material is defined in the Regulations as meaning “written material of a legal nature that is published in a legal periodical or textbook”. A CPD credit of up to a maximum of three hours may be claimed for time spent writing a relevant article or section of a legal periodical or text book that is published. Only time spent in excess of a continuous period of thirty minutes engaged in this activity may be claimed as a credit towards the minimum CPD requirement. The subject matter of the published material will determine its relevance and whether it constitutes general CPD, management and professional development skills or regulatory matters. As with all CPD, the hours engaged in this activity must form part of the solicitor’s CPD record, to be produced if requested by the Law Society to do so together with a copy of the published material.