NEW CPD REGULATIONS
Law Society’s CPD Regulations and 2010/2011 Requirements:
As of the 1st January 2010 The Solicitors (Continuing Professional Development) Regulations 2009 (the ‘2009 Regulations’) came into effect. Please Click Here to Download the New Regulations
There are now three categories of CPD:
(a) Management CPD (Management and Professional Skills)
(b) General CPD
(c) Regulatory Matters CPD
The following is a summary of the Scheme as the the beginning of 2011:
The 2011 cycle is defined as the ‘second CPD cycle’ in the 2009 Regulations (There are a limited number of exceptions these are set out below).
The 2009 Regulations oblige solicitors to undertake their continuing professional development as follows:
TWELVE (12) hours minimum of continuing professional development during that calendar year, of which a minimum of:
(a) three (3) must comprise ‘Management & Professional Skills‘ hours, and
(b) at least one (1) must comprise ‘Regulatory Matters‘.
Note on repeating CPD:
If you take the same course of CPD more than once in 2011, you can only claim credit for one such attendance towards your 12 points. You are, however, permitted to claim CPD points for 2011 in respect of CPD attended during 2011 which is a repeat of any you already did in previous years.
All of the CPD courses you attend must be in a “Group”, i.e. not alone (with two exceptions: see “eLearning” and “publishing articles” set out below). The term ‘Group Study’ is used to describe the FORMAT which CPD education / training must take.
Therefore, ‘Group Study‘ simply means that the FORMAT of the course must consist of “3 or more people in an organised session of education or training (or both), that lasts for a period of not less than thirty minutes, and is in a form that can be verified”.
Examples of ‘Group Study’ include lectures; workshops; seminars; tutorials; videoconferenced lectures / tutorials or diploma or certificate courses”.
Group Study may take place within or outside Ireland, and it does not need to be in groups that are comprised of solicitors.
(a) Management CPD
The 2009 Regulations governing the practice years 2010, 2011 & 2012 CPD cycles oblige solicitors to ensure that:
(i) the CONTENT of a minimum of three (3) hours be comprised of Management & Professional Skills,
(ii) that this minimum CPD requirement must be undertaken in one of the three permitted FORMATS/ways, namely, in either Group Study format and/or by eLearning and/or by writing relevant material that is published.
The expression 'Management & Professional Skills‘ is broad and diverse and difficult to categorise, and is flexible in the CPD guidelines. 'Management & Professional Skills‘ includes but is not limited to; financial and business management, professional ethics, budget control, practice management skills, computer skills, language enhancement relevant to the practice of law, professional ethics, advocacy and client care, stress management, human resource (HR) management and other matters.
You should be able to justify the relevance of any course you attend to your practice. The criterion is that it is of help and guidance to the solicitor in his/her practice, either now or in the future.
Note: Partners’ meetings may NOT be counted for CPD record purposes.
(b) General CPD
‘General CPD‘, on the other hand, is legal or general education/training relevant to the practice of the solicitor which is designed to improve professional knowledge, skills and abilities. The overriding test is that the education/training must be relevant to the practice of the solicitor either now or in the future.
(c) Regulatory Matters CPD
The 2009 Regulations governing the current CPD cycle define ‘Regulatory Matter’ as:
“matters relating to the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2008 and regulations made thereunder, to the current Guide to Professional Conduct of Solicitors in Ireland, to the maintenance of standards and best practice in complying with regulatory obligations applicable to solicitors, to the processing of complaints against solicitors by the Society and to the functions of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the Courts in relation to solicitors and decisions relating thereto”.
A minimum of one (1) Regulatory Matters hour and (3) hours of Management & Professional Skills is required under the 2009 Regulations. This is not a maximum requirement therefore as long as you do at least one (1) CPD hour of Regulatory Matters and at least three (3) hours of Management content, it is open to you to do the remainder of your 12 hours in Practice Management &/or Regulatory Matters (with no obligation in such event to undertake any General CPD topics).
Exceptions to Group Study Requirement:
eLearning is a somewhat new feature of the revised CPD Scheme. eLlearning is defined in the Regulations as the provision of education or training (or both) that is generated, communicated, processed, sent, received, recorded, stored and/or displayed by electronic means or in electronic form and includes that provided through:
1. the internet or other computer network connections.
2. by sound only, sound and vision or a combination of both.
3. by the provision of an electronic file, a CD-Rom and/or DVD.
4. and other technologies and formats as may be advised from time to time..
The form of eLearning undertaken must require active participation by the solicitor at least twice during the particular eLearning course or programme. This may include completing of on-line questions, repeating a unique identifying code given mid-way during the course/programme and be in a verifiable format, e.g. printing off a certificate at the end of the course/programme and/or completing an examination. Such verification of completion of eLearning in whatever format undertaken is the responsibility of the solicitor who is claiming the hours .
At your option, and subject to a maximum of three (3) hours of the 2011 annual twelve (12) hour requirement, you may do eLearning on an individual basis, i.e. not as part of a group/Group Study. In other words, there is no requirement for there to be a group of three of more people to fulfill this three hour optional eLearning element of the CPD Scheme for 2011.
As with all CPD, the subject matter of the eLearning will determine its relevance and whether it constitutes General, Management or Regulatory Matters CPD.
B) Published articles:
Writing relevant articles in periodicals or textbooks that are published is the second exception to the “Group of 3 or more” requirement. The maximum CPD credit you can claim for 2011 for the time spent writing is three (3) hours, and only periods of at least 30 minutes may be counted. Again, the subject matter of the published material will determine its relevance and whether it constitutes General, Management or Regulatory Matters CPD.
For further and more detailed information on any aspect of the Law Society’s CPD requirements, please refer to the CPD section on the Society’s website (http://www.lawsociety.ie) or contact the Society’s CPD Scheme Unit (email: email@example.com or telephone: (01) 6724802.
The Law Society’s CPD Scheme guidelines specifically stipulate that the Society does not accredit any particular course provider, nor does the Society accredit any particular course and Section 10 thereof provides that ‘the onus is on a solicitor to exercise his/her own reasonable judgment in relation to the quality of education/training and what education/training is relevant to his/her particular practice.’