Managing CPD – what does success look like?
Facilitator: Christine Grice, Executive Director, New Zealand Law Society
The general high level aim of a Continuing Professional Development framework (CPD framework) is to lay down formal requirements for ongoing maintenance and development of the knowledge and skills of lawyers. The ideal output is the demonstrable maintenance and development of competence throughout a lawyer’s career. The measurement of success using that output poses considerable difficulties.
The models of CPD adopted in our jurisdictions vary considerably. The early models of CPD were introduced over 30 years ago. Their focus then was on measuring simple inputs. The measurement for success was the number of hours (or points) that the lawyer accumulated attending CPD sessions. The CPD was usually required to be provided by accredited or credentialed providers in substantive law topics. The regulator approved the providers.
In more recent times the emphasis has moved away from the number of hours or points of CPD undertaken to the actual engagement by the lawyer in the development of skills and knowledge and so supporting their competence development. The individual takes responsibility for planning and implementing professional development to meet their own identified specific learning needs. The aim of this model is to support the lawyer to maintain competence in their chosen areas of the law. The lawyer must consider and distil the objectives that will support their goals, plan their CPD needs and implement the identified development requirements by engaging in CPD activities. This is usually effected through the preparation of a CPD plan by the lawyer. It is regularly reviewed by the individual and adjusted as the professional development is effected and the lawyer’s needs are fulfilled or replaced.
Educationalists consider the planning approach more effective in achieving real learning, than models which are entirely prescriptive or based solely on hours or points. They are also of the view that face to face learning is the most effective mode of learning.
Reflective practice was introduced to the legal profession for the first time 4 years ago. It incorporates a set number of hours which must be completed annually (10 hours prescribed but a further 40 hours discretionary learning is recommended). The lawyer must prepare their own CPD plan which is designed to support their learning objectives. The learning objectives must be itemised. The 10 hours prescribed must relate to activities which are: first verifiable; secondly allow for interaction/feedback by the participants; thirdly are in accordance with the stated purpose and outcomes set out in the plan; fourthly include identified learning objectives and finally are not part of the lawyers daily work.
Following the CPD learning activity the lawyer must reflect on what they have learnt and what is needed to build on this or to fill gaps identified. This is all recorded in a written reflection in the CPD plan. In other jurisdictions such as England and Wales, the requirement for the recording of a specified number of hours or points has been dispensed with. What is required is that the lawyer plans, implements and reflects to satisfy their own learning needs designed to maintain or attain competence in their own practice. This is judged in the first instance by the lawyer. There are also jurisdictions that have mandatory requirements to include specific CPD topics such as ethics. Others include supervised practice requirements to demonstrate learning achievement and in some professional models a minimum number of hours in practice are also required in addition to or instead of learning activities.
- What model do you have in your jurisdiction?
- What is your measure /s of success?
- How and to whom do you publish the measures of success? Are you intending to make any changes in the near future?
- Who is the audience that must be addressed when demonstrating success? Does this matter? Does it alter what is measured? Possible audiences are the public, the government, and the profession. Who else?
- What should be measured? i. Ideally; ii. Realistically.
- What type of inputs can be measured?
- What out puts can be measured?
- How are these measured?
- Are audits a useful tool?
- What should be audited? How?
- What information can be gained from inputs? Is there a place for supervised practice as part of an overall CPD framework? Is this limited to early years of practice;
- Does this provide an option for measuring success?
- Are self‐assessments and reporting a useful tool for measuring success? i. How can they be used? ii. What do they tell us?
- Should objective success ratings be attributed to different types of learning – for instance is face to face and interactive learning more valuable than say a podcast? Are there ways of measuring success related to the level of complaints against lawyers either individually or generally? Consumer and/or disciplinary matters? Is there a place for requiring demonstrating of competence by individual lawyers? Is there a place for observations and references?
- What is the place of self‐auditing firms and organisations?