It’s that time of year again. Lawyers have just over a month to complete their annual CPD points, and with the deadline fast approaching, practitioners are looking to fulfil their remaining requirements.
Although some lawyers will be rushing to obtain the necessary points before the March deadline, Una Doyle, head of professional development, membership and communications at NSW Law Society, said lawyers should work towards building skills useful to their practice, rather than just ticking a box.
“We have a system that is probably one of the more flexible CPD regimes,” she said. “It allows you to attend a variety of programs in a variety of types of skills based programs that are not necessarily black letter law but are supportive of development of practice. So I think in that respect, we’re lucky.”
Doyle observed that while this year, the Law Society has had a busy February with people tying up loose ends a month early, some lawyers are still finding it difficult to plan ahead. Her advice is to think about it at the end of the calendar year, and draw up a plan for completing the requirements.
Jason Elias, co-founder of continuing legal education website Bulletpoints, observed that it is a busy time of year for CPD. “In the Bulletpoints business, most of our sales are done in February/ March,” he said. “It’s human nature, people tend to leave it until closer to the deadline.”
To avoid being caught out at the last minute, Elias recommended lawyers use tracking tools to track their points.
According to Doyle, lawyers who still need CPD points should better familiarise themselves with the rules in order to complete the components more efficiently. Points that may be carried over into the next CPD year and units that may be picked up in the context of another program, rather than in a separate course, are efficiencies commonly overlooked by lawyers.
“Many people aren’t aware that under the current system, that any extra points that they complete in January, February and March can be carried over to the next CPD year,” she said. “So I would say to people if they need to complete something, don’t be just looking for that one or two points to get you over the line on a topic that may not be useful to you. Invest in something that is useful and if it is more points, then you can take the excess points across to the following year.”
Australasian Lawyer is running a Contract Law Masterclass in Sydney and Melbourne this March. Find out more and register online here.