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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Printable Version

In this issue:
Message from the Outgoing President of the Law Society, Steve Raby, QC
CPD: Making An Impact
Continuing Competence Strategy

2012-2013 Law Society President Message from the Outgoing President of the Law Society, Steve Raby, QC

This is my last article as President of the Law Society of Alberta. I would like to thank all Alberta lawyers for your support and encouragement during my term, and for the opportunity to serve the Law Society in regulating the legal profession in the public interest.

One of the most frequent questions
I have been asked is: what were the biggest surprises you encountered during your term?

There were two things that surprised me the most. The first is that, while I had a sense that lawyers give a lot back, almost every day I encountered something (an anecdote, resumé, a letter of thanks, etc.) confirming just how much lawyers voluntarily do to better the profession, their community and to assist those portions of the public that are in need. Of course, this is contrary to what we perceive that the public perceives of the legal profession. I have concluded that our perception of the public's perception of us may not be quite accurate. However, I believe that in performing these voluntary services, lawyers tend to be quite humble and their contributions often end up below the radar screen. While maintaining a sense of humility, we can all do a better job of increasing public awareness of the significant contributions made by members of the legal profession.

The second surprise is that it is truly remarkable as to how much change has occurred in the legal profession over the past decade and is likely to continue. For example, we have seen self-regulation turn into independent regulation in England, the rise of consumerism in the regulation of the legal profession, the rapid explosion of the use and benefits of technology, and the adoption of national standards in Canada as a corollary to national mobility. We have also been witness to rapidly changing demographics, resulting in their own set of issues including: how we can properly train all those who wish to enter the profession, and how we can improve access to legal services. Some people are now beginning to ask a very fundamental question: should the legal profession have a monopoly on the ability to provide legal services to the public?

In response to such change, we have asked the legal profession in Alberta to educate themselves in order to understand, adopt and support those changes. We have a new Code of Professional Conduct, a new trust safety regime, and are now working on national admission standards, electronic interaction with the Law Society and similar initiatives. It is in my view that it is essential to monitor the changing environment so we are not hesitant to make change when and where it makes sense.

The theme of this issue relates to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program, a subject that fits nicely into a discussion of change. Until recently, we were completely reactive to issues of professional competence.

After significant analysis, the Law Society of Alberta CPD model is based on the premise that adults learn best when their learning is self-directed and that the vast majority of lawyers want to improve their practice to best serve their clients. Most other law societies in Canada have adopted a traditional model requiring mandatory number of hours of attendance at CPD programs (commonly referred to as the "bums in seats" model).

I have personally always been a big proponent of the Alberta CPD Program. I firmly believe that, where feasible, most lawyers will take advantage of any appropriate opportunity to better their delivery of legal services to their clients.

As we move to national standards however, it seems inevitable that there will be a clash between the two models. If we truly believe that our model is advantageous, we are going to have to be in a position to convince other law societies that the Alberta lifelong learning CPD planning model is a better approach for a modern regulator focused on outcomes.

Moving forward, the Law Society will be focusing on programs that proactively establish quality assurance in the delivery of legal services.

In closing, I believe that the Law Society is in excellent hands to deal with both core business requirements and future change. I wish the staff and the Benchers, led by incoming President Carsten Jensen and President-Elect Kevin Feth, all well in the coming year.

 

CPD: Making An Impact

The Law Society of Alberta set out on a course in 2005 to do something different regarding its CPD Program. While a “mandatory minimum hour requirement” is prevalent in most other jurisdictions, the Law Society of Alberta opted for an alternate approach to meeting the goals of enhanced lawyer competence. As a model regulator acting in the public interest, the overall goal needs to focus on the outcome of increased lawyer competence and the delivery of high quality legal service. An impact evaluation of the CPD Program by independent consultants Charis Research has now been completed with encouraging results and outcomes. The evaluation also articulates recommendations for program improvements.

Across all lines of evidence, the evaluation indicates that the Law Society’s CPD Program is on track and all of the processes are in place to realize the desired impact of the CPD Program. Among the findings are:

  • Lawyers understand the CPD Program goals and objectives
  • The compliance rate is 99.5%
  • 100% of CPD Plans reviewed identified relevant CPD activities
  • 91% of lawyers followed through on the planned learning activities
  • 32% of lawyers spent over 50 hours annually on CPD in 2011
  • 90% of members spent over 15 hours
  • 51% regularly monitor their CPD Plan activities
  • 64% evaluate the progress they are making on their CPD Plan
  • The CPD online tools, including the CPD Plan template, improve the quality of the CPD Plan
  • Respondents are satisfied with the support for the CPD Program
  • The CPD Program is appropriate and flexible across the range of legal experience and accommodates various areas of law
  • There is a growing awareness of the need to self-evaluate the progress of professional development each year

>> Read Complete Article

 

Continuing Competence Strategy

The Continuing Competence Committee has been tasked with articulating an integrated continuing competence strategy in accordance with the mission and vision of the Law Society’s Strategic Plan. The Benchers have affirmed the following objectives for the Law Society of Alberta’s integrated competence strategy:

  • demonstrates to the public, government, the profession and other stakeholders that the Law Society is dedicated to maintaining public trust and access to justice in ensuring the competent delivery of quality legal services to the public (outcomes focused);
  • articulates the criteria of quality legal service delivery (continuing competence/quality standards framework);
  • proactively enhances and supports lawyers in the quality delivery of legal services to the public (rather than the passive approach of waiting until signs of incompetence are demonstrated through complaints and insurance claims);
  • integrates the existing Law Society competence initiatives into a comprehensive proactive program to ensure the competent delivery of quality legal services by lawyers to the public.

To meet these objectives, the Committee is examining how the Law Society can proactively ensure that lawyers are competent and providing quality legal services to the public throughout their career. In June, the Bencher’s were presented with a report from a senior administrator with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority from the United Kingdom; who indicated that modern legal regulators implement proactive programs to manage risks and to measure the outcomes desired particularly regarding lawyer competence and the quality of legal service delivery to the public. This is referred to as outcomes focused regulation.

>> Read Complete Article

 

2013 CPD Plan Declaration Due: March 15, 2013

The Law Society of Alberta’s Continuing Professional Development Program is a regulatory program of the Law Society and a mandatory requirement for all active lawyers in Alberta. The goal of the CPD Program is to enhance lawyer competence and demonstrate to the public that the Law Society is accountable and has programs for the ongoing professional development and competence of lawyers.

The aim of the program is to ensure that each lawyer in Alberta strives for excellence in their practice and in the delivery of legal services through the mandatory annual planning and implementation of an effective CPD Plan. Key to this process is an evaluation of professional development goals and the evaluation of the previous year’s CPD Plan activities and outcomes.

Go to the CPD Alberta website at www.cpdalberta.ca to:

• Identify your professional development goals
• Evaluate your 2012 CPD Plan
• Create your 2013 CPD Plan
• Make your CPD Plan declaration

Although there is no minimum hour requirement, the annual planning, evaluation, declaration and implementation of a CPD Plan is mandatory for all active lawyers practicing in Alberta.

The Rules and the Code of Conduct require every active lawyer to:

•  Annually prepare and make a record of a CPD Plan in written or electronic form
•  On or before March 15 of each year, make a declaration to the Law Society that their annual CPD Plan has been made; and
•  Retain the written or electronic record of the CPD Plan for 5 years and produce the CPD Plan to the Law Society upon request.

Additional information is available at www.lawsociety.ab.ca or contact the Continuing Professional Development Department at 403-229-4766; cpd@lawsociety.ab.ca.

Did you know?
The compliance rate for the Law Society of Alberta CPD Program is 99.5% with 32% of lawyers spending over 50 hours on CPD in 2011.

 

 

 

Printable Version

www.lawsociety.ab.ca
Law Society of Alberta
Calgary Office
Suite 500, 919 11th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta T2R 1P3
Phone: 403-229-4700

Edmonton Office
Suite 800, Bell Tower
10104-103 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 0H8
Phone: 780-429-3343

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