Law is a stressful occupation. And in an already pressuring environment, it can be challenging to prioritise your continuing professional development. It's not a secret that many lawyers believe that mandatory legal CPD often causes more stress than it's worth. But there are plenty of reasons - besides renewing your practicing certificate - why you should take your CPD more seriously.
1. Reinvigorate your role
Most of us can relate to the excitement of starting a new job - we're eager to prove ourselves and keen to learn. But once we've been in the same role for some time, everything that was once new has become routine. There's a risk that you'll start to feel complacent. And for lawyers - who are expected to be high-performers and provide a high-quality service - complacency is very detrimental.
One of the many benefits of continuing professional development is that it can help to reinvigorate your role and fight career stagnation.
CPD is an opportunity to explore new areas of law, learn new skills, and possibly discover new passions. And by finding different ways of incorporating these newly found skills and interests you can reignite your passion for your job. You'll feel more motivated and more engaged. In turn, this will also boost your productivity, and improve your performance at work.
2. Advance your career
Many lawyers view the mandatory legal CPD as something they have to do purely because they need to renew their practicing certificate and avoid sanctions. But what if lawyers could instead see CPD as a way to progress their careers?
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What are your career goals? Start by identifying your goals and create a vision for your career. Do you want to open up a law practice and manage your own team? Or maybe you'd like to coach young lawyers at the beginning of their careers, or you'd like to be able to work part-time from home?
Once you have pinpointed your goals it’s easier to identify potential knowledge gaps as well as the training you need to take to fill these gaps. If your goal is a flexible schedule where you work part-time from home, a course in best practices for remote work could be a good place to start.
The point is that we all have the opportunity to mould our roles and our careers according to our wishes. By viewing continuing professional development as a way of advancing your career you’re more likely to choose legal CPD courses with care, and use this as a chance to boost your career.
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3. Stay competitive
The legal profession is constantly evolving - especially with the rapid development of legal technology. And thanks to COVID-19 it's changing faster than ever. Lawyers must work to stay relevant and competent if they want to remain competitive. And participating in continuing professional development is one way to achieve this.
CPD not only ensures that you keep pace with current industry standards, but also build skills to strengthen you in your current role. It's an opportunity to deepen your knowledge in a specific area and gain an understanding of emerging trends that might impact your work. All of this combined will help you stay ahead of the game.
4. Boost your wellbeing
What did Katherine Johnson, Madam CJ Walker, and Albert Einstein have in common? Curiosity and a thirst to learn! When we’re young, we’re encouraged to explore new ideas and learn new concepts. But as we get older, our focus on learning decreases - and for the most part, so does our level of curiosity.
This is unfortunate since a lot of research shows that continuous learning and curiosity can be beneficial for happiness, intellectual growth, and overall mental health.
There are also other benefits:
Better brain health: Curiosity helps your mind to be more active instead of passive.
Problem-solving: Curious people are often more creative and open to looking at a problem from different angles. This is great to improve problem-solving - an essential skill for lawyers.
Improved relationships: curious people are often viewed as more empathetic. And as we know, empathy is a crucial trait of a successful lawyer.
5. CPD strengthens the profession
Continuing professional development is a hallmark of most professions, including the legal profession. When lawyers commit to completing legal CPD, they are committing to maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills. In turn, this ensures high standards are maintained in that individual lawyer’s practice - and in the broader profession. This builds trust with clients, the courts, and the community, who can feel assured of the competence of the profession.
This is why lawyers are required to complete continuing professional development - to uphold their obligations as a professional to clients, the courts, and the community. It can be easy to lose sight of this at times, but strengthening your own skills also helps to strengthen the profession as a whole.
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