The growth of the Continuing Professional Development program has spanned more than a decade:
- 2008: Law Society introduces Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements for lawyers in Alberta established in the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.
- 2012: Charis Management Consulting Inc. conducts an evaluation of the CPD Program. The CPD Evaluation shows that most lawyers support the CPD program – lawyers indicated that the CPD program does contribute to their professional development and facilitates continuous learning and improved competency.
- 2015: Law Society develops the online Lawyer Portal to allow lawyers to pay their fees online, update contact information and complete other requirements.
- 2016: CPD program focus shifts from a substantive law approach to a competencies approach in an effort to ensure the ongoing competence and professionalism of lawyers in Alberta
- 2016: All lawyers are required to develop and declare their CPD plan through the Lawyer Portal using a standard template. This way, lawyers are required to access one website for all of their membership requirements, resulting in ease of use and familiarity with one system. Having a standard template, used by all lawyers in Alberta, ensures that all lawyers are using a consistent process in the development of their CPD plans. The 2012 evaluation process found that use of the CPD plan template improved the quality of members’ plans.
- Note: The Lawyer Portal will be able to store multiple years’ worth of plans. However, the Lawyer Portal is not an archive and lawyers will still be responsible, under the Rules, to maintain a copy of their plan for their records and the five year retention requirement. The Lawyer Portal does contain the ability to print plans to accommodate this requirement.
- 2017: Bencher-approved changes to the CPD program are implemented. The first change shifts the annual deadline for CPD declarations from March 15th to September 30th. The second change improves program accountability through the implementation of an administrative suspension for failure to declare a plan.
While the CPD program is a mandatory requirement for all active lawyers in Alberta, it has been, and will continue to be, a flexible and convenient method to ensure lawyers meet their professional duty of competence. It also meets the Law Society’s public interest mandate by implementing a regulatory program to ensure the ongoing competence and professionalism of lawyers in Alberta.
In this way, the program is not only of value to lawyers who may be struggling with their practice, but supports and encourages all lawyers, even those with experience and knowledge and skill levels, to improve their competence in a way that best addresses their own personal practice needs.