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The Law Society is working on a new approach to continuing professional development (CPD) for Alberta lawyers that is more self-directed and provides guidance around professional competencies that are relevant for legal practice in Alberta today.
The Board approved an extension to suspend the annual CPD filing requirement for an additional year to May 2023 to allow more time to build a CPD approach that goes beyond setting a minimum standard for competence and offers an enhanced experience for lawyers.
Our goal in making these improvements is for lawyers to be more engaged with their CPD plans by providing them with more guidance and tools with the introduction of the Law Society of Alberta’s Professional Development Profile for Alberta lawyers (the Profile) in 2022 and the new CPD planning tool coming in 2023.
The new approach to CPD for Alberta lawyers is outlined in the phases below.
Phase One: Professional Development Profile for Alberta Lawyers
The Profile is designed to provide guidance to all Alberta lawyers, regardless of experience or practice area. The Profile is not intended to be a checklist and lawyers are not required to demonstrate competency in every area of the Profile each year. It is meant to provide guidance when lawyers are selecting areas for professional development that are meaningful to them and their practice.
The Profile does not include substantive areas of law, but broad areas of knowledge, skills and abilities that lawyers practising in all areas might look to develop or expand. As always, lawyers are encouraged to pursue CPD specific to their practice areas in addition to the areas in the new Profile.
View the Profile here.
Phase Two: Supporting Resources
The Law Society will continue to develop guidance and resources to support lawyers in creating meaningful and effective CPD plans. The resources will focus on how to use self-reflection to better identify your learning needs and assess your progress.
Phase Three: New CPD Tool
An interactive tool to help lawyers with the new approach to CPD is currently in development and will roll out in 2023.
Phase Four: Review Process
We will also introduce a CPD review process in 2023, to provide follow up and support to lawyers on their CPD plans.
Encouraging lifelong learning
Although the CPD filing requirement was lifted for an additional year until 2023, CPD activities remain crucial for lawyers in fulfilling their Code of Conduct obligations respecting competent legal service delivery. Lawyers are still encouraged to develop an annual CPD plan, whether on their own or by using the Profile and accompanying proficiency scale. Past CPD plans remain available in the Lawyer Portal, but the old CPD planning tool is no longer available as it no longer aligns with our approach.
As a reminder, the Indigenous Cultural Competency education, The Path (Alberta), was launched to provide lawyers with ongoing professional development. For most lawyers, the Path (Alberta) training must be complete by October 2022, or otherwise within the 18-month timeframe for completion.
Learning doesn’t stop once law school ends. Like other professions, lawyers must stay up to speed with technology, issues and consumer needs. Taking the time to schedule professional development benefits you as a lawyer, your law firm or organization and your clients.