Continuing professional development
Victorian legal practitioners must complete continuing professional development (CPD) activities during each year of practice. This helps ensure the ongoing competence of legal practitioners, keeping their knowledge and skills current.
The CPD year runs from 1 April to 31 March, during which 10 hours of CPD must be completed. Guidance on what constitutes CPD activities is provided in the CPD rules and in the Board’s CPD policy (see below). Practitioners must keep a record of all the CPD activities they completed in the current and last three CPD years.
Links to the CPD rules which outline the CPD requirements of Victorian legal practitioners are provided below.
Professional association rules
With the Board’s approval, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian Bar have made rules that set out CPD requirements and obligations.
The professional association CPD rules provide for the educational aspects of CPD, such as the content of CPD activities, the amount and type of CPD units that must be completed, pro-rata calculations and CPD record-keeping obligations.
The Board CPD rules must be read in conjunction with the relevant professional association rules.
The Board CPD rules provide compliance mechanisms in relation to the CPD requirements imposed by professional association CPD rules. The rules outline the Board’s powers to require certification, verification and rectification in relation to CPD. The rules also provide for the Board to exempt a local legal practitioner from their CPD obligations.
The Board’s powers under the Board CPD rules are currently delegated to the Victorian Bar (for barristers) and the Law Institute of Victoria (for all other legal practitioners). The Board has developed a policy to guide the exercise of these powers.
When legal practitioners apply to renew their local practising certificate, they must certify whether or not they have met their CPD obligations for the most recently completed CPD year. If they have not met their obligations, they should provide details of any exemption granted (see ‘exemptions’ below) or submit a rectification plan with their renewal form (see ‘rectification’ below).
Legal practitioners may be required, at any time, to verify within 21 days whether they have met their CPD obligations for the current CPD year or any of the three previous CPD years. If you are selected for verification (audit), you must provide:
- your CPD attendance record; and
- supporting evidence (eg. receipts, copies of presentation notes, copies of enrolment records or certificates of completion).
If certification or verification reveals that you have not met your CPD obligations, you will receive written notice requiring you to submit a rectification plan within 21 days. The plan must set out the CPD activities that you intend to take to rectify your non-compliance within 90 days after submitting the plan. You must comply with the rectification plan.
Download a rectification plan template.
Practitioners may be exempted in whole or in part from the requirement to undertake CPD activities imposed by the professional association CPD rules. Exemptions may be granted on the grounds of hardship or special circumstances based on any one or more of the following:
- illness or disability
- the location of the practitioner’s legal practice
- the practitioner’s absence from legal practice
Applications for exemption should be made in writing to the relevant professional association.
Returning to practice from a period of extended leave
If you have let your practising certificate lapse, you must, on renewal, complete the CPD units for the CPD year of your return according to the pro rata calculation table in the relevant professional association CPD rules. For example, if you recommence practice in September, you must complete five CPD units for the remainder of that CPD year, four of which must be completed in the compulsory fields. As above, you can seek an exemption from the Law Institute of Victoria or Victorian Bar as delegates of the Board.
Legal practitioners are exempt from the requirement to comply with the CPD requirements for the duration of any period in which they do not have a practising certificate. However, upon renewal, they must complete the CPD units for the CPD year of their return according to the relevant pro rata calculation table.
Practitioners (other than barristers) who have not held a practising certificate for three or more consecutive CPD years must file a training plan in accordance with the Law Institute of Victoria CPD rules.
Failing to comply with the CPD rules may constitute unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct. It may also be taken into account by the Board in determining whether a person is a fit and proper person to hold a practising certificate. Non-compliance will be considered in accordance with the Board’s policy (see above).
Practising certificate renewal applications may not be processed until the applicants have met their outstanding CPD obligations, or at least established a rectification plan. Continuing professional development is essential for preserving public and professional confidence in lawyers and their legal services. Compliance with CPD Rules is closely tied to a lawyer’s right to engage in legal practice in Victoria.
Examples of CPD non-compliance include:
- failing to produce CPD records when required;
- failing to complete the required amount or type of CPD activities;
- failing to submit a rectification plan as required;
- failing to confirm compliance with a rectification plan as required.
The CPD scheme is administered by the relevant professional associations. For information about the CPD requirements, or exemptions from those requirements, please contact the Victorian Bar (for barristers) or the Law Institute of Victoria (for all other local legal practitioners).