Checklist: COVID-19 Changes to the CPD Requirements

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Lawyers have been required to adapt to a series of significant shifts since the coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March 2020. These changes have impacted every aspect of how lawyers practice. Many activities traditionally conducted face-to-face are now being done online - including client meetings, court appearances, and even witnessing certain documents. The extent of these changes continue to vary over time as the situation develops in each state and territory.

Even the way lawyers complete their CPD has changed as a result of the pandemic. Law societies in every state and territory continue to make adjustments to their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements to provide greater flexibility to lawyers to ensure they can continue to comply with their mandatory CPD obligations. 

We have put together a checklist of the key changes to the CPD rules in each jurisdiction to help you keep up to date with how you can stay CPD compliant.

New South Wales

NSW Solicitors 

The Law Society of NSW lifted the cap on using audio/visual material for private study for the 2019/2020 CPD year. NSW lawyers may usually only claim up to 5 CPD units each year by completing these types of CPD activities. 

The Law Society also noted that NSW solicitors are already permitted to claim an unlimited number of CPD units by completing web-based programs under the CPD rules. Web-based programs are different from private study because they involve an interactive element or take place in real time. LawCPD’s online courses are all classified as interactive web-based programs under the CPD rules. 

You can read the Law Society of NSW’s COVID-19 information and resources here or learn more about the CPD requirements here.

 

NSW Barristers 

NSW barristers continue to have the option to complete their CPD both in-person or online, and can claim 1 CPD point per hour and an unlimited number of CPD points each year for both in-person and online activities. However, most activities for the 2020/2021 CPD year are scheduled to be held online rather than in-person to minimise health risks.

You can read the NSW Bar Association’s COVID-19 updates here or learn more about the NSW barristers rules for CPD here.

 

Victoria

Victorian Solicitors

The Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner lifted the cap on completing private study of audio/visual material for the 2019/2020 CPD year. Victorian solicitors may generally only claim up to 5 CPD units each year by completing these types of CPD activities.

The VLSB+C also highlighted that Victorian solicitors are already permitted to participate in web-based programs, for which there is no unit cap. Web-based programs are considered to be distinct from private study as they include an interactive element or take place in real time. LawCPD’s online courses are all classified as interactive web-based programs under the CPD rules. 

You can read the VLSB+C update on CPD activities here, access the Law Institute of Victoria’s COVID-19 information hub here, or learn more about the CPD requirements here

 

Victorian Barristers

Victorian barristers continue to have the option to complete their CPD both in-person or online, and can claim 1 CPD point per hour and an unlimited number of CPD points each year for both in-person and online activities. However, it is important to note that most activities for the 2020/2021 CPD year are being held online due to the ongoing health risks.

You can read the Victorian Bar Association’s COVID-19 updates here or learn more about the Victorian barristers rules for CPD here

 

Western Australia

The Legal Practice Board of WA lifted the cap on viewing or listening to pre-recorded material as part of a practitioner’s continuing professional development for the 2019/2020 CPD year. Ordinarily, WA lawyers may only claim up to 4 CPD points per year for these types of CPD activities.

WA lawyers continue to have the option to complete their CPD in-person or online, and can claim 1 CPD point per hour and an unlimited number of CPD points each year for both in-person and interactive electronic activities. LawCPD is an approved QA Provider of continuing professional development in WA, and all of its online courses are classified as interactive electronic activities. 

You can read the Legal Practice Board of WA’s COVID-19 updates here or learn more about the CPD requirements here.

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Queensland

Queensland Solicitors

The Queensland Law Society extended the CPD deadline for all solicitors until 30 June 2020. The new CPD year still commences on 1 April 2020, and any surplus CPD points earned between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020 may be claimed in either the 2019/2020 or 2020/2021 CPD year.

Queensland solicitors continue to have the option to complete their CPD in-person or online, and can claim 1 CPD point per hour and an unlimited number of CPD points each year for both in-person and online activities.

You can read the Queensland Law Society’s COVID-19 information and resources here or learn more about the solicitors rules for CPD here.

 

Queensland Barristers

The Queensland Bar Council has indefinitely lifted the cap on completing online activities as a part of continuing legal education. Usually, Queensland barristers may only claim 1 CPD point per hour and up to 3 CPD points each year for online activities. The Bar Council has stated that barristers may claim an unlimited number of CPD points for online activities for the 2019/2020 CPD year and for the current CPD year.

You can learn more about the Queensland barristers rules for CPD here.

 

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South Australia

The South Australian Law Society extended the CPD deadline for all practitioners until 30 June 2020. It also lifted the cap on completing online activities as a part of practitioners’ mandatory continuing professional development. 

This means that for the 2019/2020 CPD year, South Australian practitioners may claim an unlimited number of CPD units for viewing or listening to recorded materials or undertaking multi-media or web based programs. 

You can read the Law Society of South Australia’s COVID-19 updates and resources here or learn more about the CPD requirements here.

 

Australian Capital Territory

ACT Solicitors

The ACT Law Society offered all solicitors who were unable to attend training in the lead up to the 31 March 2020 CPD deadline with the option to apply for an extension of time to complete their CPD requirements until 30 September 2020. 

ACT solicitors continue to have the flexibility to complete their CPD either in-person or online. You can claim 1 CPD unit per hour and an unlimited number of CPD units each year for both in-person and online activities

You can read the ACT Law Society’s coronavirus update for the legal profession here or learn more about the solicitors rules for CPD here.

 

ACT Barristers

ACT barristers are usually only able to claim 1 CPD unit per hour and up to 6 CPD units each year by actively engaging in online-legal programmes, and only 0.5 CPD units per hour for watching a video or listening to a podcast. The ACT Bar Association lifted the cap on these activities for the 2019/2020 CPD year, enabling barristers to claim an unlimited number of CPD units for online activities. It has not yet been determined whether this cap will also be lifted for the 2020/2021 CPD year.

You can read more about the ACT barristers rules for CPD here.

 

Tasmania

The Law Society of Tasmania extended the CPD deadline for all practitioners until 30 April 2020. It also determined to permanently change the dates for the CPD year from 1 April to 31 March annually to 1 May to 30 April annually. 

Tasmanian practitioners are ordinarily only able to claim up to 5 CPD units each year for completing online activities, including viewing/listening to audio/visual recordings or completing multimedia or web based programs. For the 2019/2020 CPD year, practitioners may claim an unlimited number of CPD points for completing online activities

You can read the Law Society of Tasmania’s COVID-19 updates here or learn more about the CPD requirements here.

 

Northern Territory

The NT Law Society lifted the cap on private study of audio visual material for the purposes of continuing professional development. NT lawyers are usually only able to claim 1 CPD point per hour and up to 5 CPD points each year by completing these activities, but are able to claim unlimited points for the 2019/2020 CPD year. 

NT lawyers continue to have the option of earning 1 CPD point per hour and an unlimited number of CPD points each year by attending in-person seminars, live online seminars, and completing multimedia or website based programs.

You can read the NT Law Society’s COVID-19 updates here or learn more about the CPD requirements here.

 

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