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- CPD Plan Requirements and Tool
Active lawyers are required to submit a CPD plan using the CPD Tool by Oct. 1 of each year. Failure by an active lawyer to submit a CPD plan by the deadline will result in an administrative suspension, as set out in Rule 67.3 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.
The CPD Tool is also available to Alberta lawyers who are not required to submit an annual plan. The Law Society encourages all lawyers to take advantage of the tools and resources being offered through the new CPD approach.
While students-at-law will not have access to the CPD Tool, the Law Society still encourages students to engage in this initiative by familiarizing themselves with the resources that are being offered.
The Law Society strongly believes that learning does not stop once law school ends; like all professions, lawyers (and students) must stay up to date with technology, current issues and consumer needs. Completing professional development benefits you as a lawyer, your law firm or organization and your clients.
In addition to the below, see the CPD FAQs, CPD Resources, CPD Plan Review Process and Guideline for further information.
CPD Plan Requirements
Only lawyers who hold active status when the CPD planning period opens on July 4 are required to submit a CPD plan for that year. The only exception to this is for lawyers who have the status of active – non-practicing. All lawyers are still encouraged to use the CPD Tool to access the benefits of self-assessment and creating personal goals. Lawyers can confirm whether this requirement applies to them by checking the Mandatory Education tab in the CPD section of the Lawyer Portal.
Lawyers may apply for an exemption if on parental leave, medical leave or having another circumstance that prevents them from participating in the CPD program. Generally speaking, lawyers who are actively engaged in the delivery of any legal services during the CPD year (Oct. to Sept. each year) and have active status when the CPD planning period opens on July 4 are required to submit a CPD plan. Plans can be tailored to each lawyer’s individual circumstances through the competencies and learning activities selected. Whether providing legal services on a part-time basis or getting close to the end of a career, lawyers can tailor their CPD plan to fit their circumstances.
Exemption requests are submitted through the CPD section of the Lawyer Portal. Lawyers are required to request an exemption through the Lawyer Portal in advance of and for each CPD year that their circumstances prevent them from participating in the CPD program.
Lawyers who require an exemption are strongly encouraged to apply well in advance of the Oct. 1 deadline, as exemptions are assessed by the Law Society and processing times can vary. Lawyers who have outstanding exemption applications on Oct. 1 will be at risk of administrative suspension.
Lawyers are required to select at least two competencies from any of the domains contained within the Professional Development Profile (Profile). The Profile sets out the competencies the Law Society believes are important to maintain a safe, effective and sustainable legal practice in Alberta today. It is not the expectation of the Law Society that all lawyers will be highly proficient in all areas included in the Profile. Lawyers may already possess some of the competencies or want to develop or enhance them with training and learning over time.
There are 29 competencies in the Profile that are broadly applicable to all lawyers. As CPD plans are personal to each lawyer, their practice and their learning goals, lawyers may tailor their chosen competencies to their practice through the learning activities they select and add other competencies that are not included in the Profile. Lawyers are encouraged to add competencies that are specific to their practice area(s) in addition to the competencies they are required to select from the Profile.
Lawyers are required to select at least one learning activity to help develop or enhance each competency they selected in developing their plan, using either the drop-down menu in the CPD Tool or adding another activity or activities of their choice. Lawyers may select more than one learning activity per competency, based on what they determine to be effective for their practice and learning goals.
The Law Society has always taken a broad approach regarding the types of learning activity a lawyer can engage in for continuing professional development. The definition of “Continuing Professional Development,” set out in Rule 67.1 of The Rules of the Law Society of Alberta, allows for both formal and informal learning activities to be completed provided the requirements under the Rule are met. In addition to the CPD Tool providing a drop-down menu of popular options, our website provides suggestions for various practice types and years at the bar and lawyers can add other types of activities not included in the drop-down menu that are appropriate to their practice and circumstances.
The CPD Tool provides opportunities for lawyers to reflect on their professional development goals, self-assess their current levels of proficiency and prioritize competencies and learning activities to focus on each year.
The Tool also provides more opportunities for lawyers to engage with their plans throughout the year. The Tool allows lawyers to track their progress on their learning activities and reflect on whether and how each activity supported their professional development goals. This process is not required but can enhance the overall learning process and help lawyers determine the types of activities that are effective for them.
The CPD Tool is accessed through the Lawyer Portal, by selecting CPD in the drop-down menu located beside the lawyer’s name.