This paper has been prepared to identify issues and promote discussion about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the Victorian legal profession. No conclusions have been reached and the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSB+C) hopes to obtain as wide a range of views as possible.
CPD is a hallmark of most professions. A profession’s economic and social identity, status and privileges spring from its unique knowledge and skills. Professionals generally agree that they should maintain and improve their knowledge and skills by regularly refreshing them and staying up to date with new developments.
The legal profession has always valued continuing development of its members’ knowledge and skills. The essential need for the community to have confidence in the rule of law also generates a requirement for lawyers to demonstrate competence in the advice and representation that they provide to their clients.
Although many lawyers voluntarily undertook CPD activities in the past, CPD became a mandatory requirement for Victorian lawyers in 2004. The introduction of compulsory CPD reflected a trend in other jurisdictions in Australia as well as overseas, including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada and the USA. Most European lawyers have also become subject to a mandatory CPD requirement.
Under the Legal Profession Uniform Law (Uniform Law) that applies in Victoria , practising lawyers are required to complete 10 CPD points on an annual basis. The requirements for solicitors and barristers are similar, with some small differences . The VLSB+C has a CPD Policy that provides guidance on how it interprets, monitors and enforces the CPD requirements.