We encourage all Alberta lawyers to develop a “reflective practice” through our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program. Reflective practice has become a well-established method of self-assessment in recent years and describes a more engaged approach of self-reflection in assessing competence.
In completing their CPD plan, lawyers are expected to reflect on their practice and be critical of their existing knowledge in order to identify areas for learning and growth.
To meet the requirements of a CPD plan, lawyers must conduct a needs assessment in order to build their learning objectives and priorities for the year. Taking a reflective practice approach to CPD planning ensures that the program is of value to all lawyers, whether they may be struggling with their practice or have significant seniority, knowledge and skill levels.
The needs assessment requires a review of the previous year’s plan; the CPD plan template includes space for this review. Goal setting with measurable outcomes can assist in this process.
In reviewing the previous year’s CPD plan and activities, the following questions can assist you in your evaluation:
- What activities did I undertake pursuant to last year’s CPD plan?
- Why did I select this activity and how will it help my practice?
- How did each CPD activity improve my competence as a lawyer?
- Did I meet my goals and objectives?
- Is further learning or professional development required in any of the areas identified?
- What will be carried forward to my future CPD plan?
You should also regularly assess the implementation of goal CPD goals throughout the year. Quarterly reviews are a good start. You should ask:
- How am I doing with implementing the activities identified in my CPD plan?
- Were the activities selected beneficial?
- Did the activities selected have the intended effect, tangible or intangible?
- Did the activities selected have unintended consequences, positive or negative?
- Am I meeting my CPD goals as set out in my CPD plan?
- How are the activities I am engaged in enhancing my competence and the quality of legal services that I deliver to my clients?
Though the CPD plan itself locks in upon declaration, it is accessible year-round. The reflection area is not locked in and allows you to reflect on your progress, learnings, the success of your plan and potential changes to make your plan more effective or beneficial to competence.
Within the reflection area for each competency, you can amend your goals and objectives, identify additional activities to undertake and assess the value of those already undertaken during the year.
This self-assessment and reflection process in the CPD program is meant to be ongoing over the course of the year and of your legal career as a whole.