The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 4, October 2010

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Six month Continuing Professional Development Plan Check-Up

By James Glass, QC, Bencher and Chair, Continuing Professional Development Committee, Law Society of Alberta

IT HAS BEEN six months since March 15, 2010 when all Alberta lawyers were required to declare they had created their annual Continuing Professional Development Plan.

Now is an opportune time to do a six month check-up to determine whether you are on track in the implementation of your CPD goals and plans as September 15 marks the half-way point. That is six months before your next Continuing Professional Development (CPD) declaration is due.

The goal of the CPD program is to ensure that lawyers strive for excellence in their practice through the mandatory annual planning and implementation of an effective continuing education plan.

Next year, you will be required to make your annual CPD declaration on or before March 15, 2011. The CPD rule requirements in Alberta incorporate a flexible and self-directed adult learning philosophy recognizing that most lawyers regularly incorporate CPD into their practices.

However, members should be aware that the CPD Committee will be considering various options for a more rigourous approach to the CPD planning declaration to ensure that Alberta lawyers are accountable for their professional obligations regarding continuing competence and are following and implementing their continuing professional development plans.

As part of your six month CPD check-up:

  • Review your CPD plan.
  • Identify what parts of your plan you have accomplished.
  • Identify what still needs to be done and where you are falling short.
  • Set benchmarks and timelines for achieving your plans.
  • Make arrangements to complete any outstanding items on the plan, i.e. register for seminars or courses, write that paper for publication, mentor a junior lawyer on an area of law and practice, enroll in a new CBA subsection.
  • Incorporate into your CPD check-up those additional professional development achievements you did not plan but you have accomplished.
  • Evaluate your plan, checking to see what is working well and what isn’t. 
  • Finally start to consider what you might do differently for next year’s CPD plan and jot down ideas for future continuing professional development opportunities.

Continuing professional development is more than attending courses. Rule 67.1 states that continuing professional development” is any learning activity that is:

  1. relevant to the professional needs of a lawyer;
  2. pertinent to long-term career interests as a lawyer;
  3. in the interests of the employer of a lawyer or
  4. related to the professional ethics and responsibilities of lawyers.

Continuing professional development must also contain significant substantive, technical, practical or intellectual content. It is each lawyer’s responsibility to determine whether a learning activity meets these criteria and therefore qualifies as continuing professional development.

Course offerings are still an important aspect of CPD planning and particularly when there are comprehensive changes to law and practice. The Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) has released its course offerings in the 2010-2011 calendar which include:

  • Comprehensive programming for the new Alberta Rules of Court which come into force as of November 2010 including sessions for both lawyers and legal support staff.
  • A range of courses in Family Law, Business Law, Civil Litigation, CPLED, Criminal Law as well as Wills & Estates.

In conjunction with LESA, the Law Society of Alberta will be offering a course on the new trust accounting rules and regulatory requirements as part of its Safety of Trust Property initiative.

For more details on the LESA course offerings, visit or more information on various continuing professional development resources, visit

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