Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential part of maintaining high standards of professional practice. It ensures that lawyers are continually updating and improving their knowledge and skills, thereby maintaining the quality of the services delivered to their clients and the general public.

Meaningful and relevant CPD is important for maintaining excellence and contemporary best practice in the provision of legal services to both businesses and the community. The focus for lawyers should be on good learning and development outcomes relevant to their practice needs, rather than on compliance as an aim in itself.

If you hold an Australian practising certificate, in each CPD year you need to complete a minimum of 10 hours of CPD activities across each of the four prescribed fields/categories, and at least 6 hours of those CPD activities need to be interactive. An interactive CPD activity engages participants in the learning process to achieve enhanced engagement, collaboration and critical thinking about the topic.  

The CPD year commences on 1 April and goes through to 31 March the following year.

In Western Australia CPD activities must be approved by the Board or delivered by a provider approved by the Board (QA provider).

It is recommended that you monitor your compliance with your CPD requirements throughout the year using the Board’s CPD Management system (CPDMS). The CPDMS can be accessed via your onlinepractitioner portal.). If an approved QA Provider has not uploaded your CPD units/points, you will need to follow-up directly with the provider and ask them to upload your points to the Board’s CPDMS immediately.

The CPD rules

The minimum requirements for CPD in Western Australia are set out in the Legal Profession Uniform Law.  The Uniform Law framework contains:

A barrister means an Australian legal practitioner whose Australian practising certificate is subject to a condition that the holder is authorised to engage in legal practice as or in the manner of a barrister only.

In summary, a practitioner who holds an Australian practising certificate is required to complete:

  • a minimum of 10 CPD units/points
  • at least one unit/point in each of the four fields/categories
  • at least 6 interactive CPD units/points. 

As set out in rule 7(1) of the Solicitor’s CPD Rules and rule 6(1) of the Barrister’s CPD Rules, the criteria for each CPD activity is that it must be:

  1. of significant intellectual or practical content and must deal primarily with matters related to the practice of law
  2. conducted by persons who are qualified by practical or academic experience in the subject covered
  3. relevant to and extend knowledge and skills in areas relevant to the practitioner’s professional development needs.

As set out in rule 6 of the Solicitors’ CPD Rules, the four fields are:

  • ethics and professional responsibility
  • practice management and business skills
  • professional skills
  • substantive law. 

As set out in rule 9 of the Barristers’ CPD Rules, the four categories are:

  • ethics and professional responsibility
  • practice management and business skills
  • substantive law, practice and procedure, and evidence
  • barristers’ skills.

To avoid duplication of systems, these fields and categories are mapped to the CPDMS in accordance with the table below.

CPDMSCPD Rules SolicitorsCPD Rules Barristers
Practice ManagementPractice Management & Business SkillsPractice Management & Business Skills
Professional SkillsProfessional SkillsBarristers’ Skills
Ethics or Professional ResponsibilityEthics or Professional ResponsibilityEthics or Professional Responsibility
Substantive LawSubstantive LawSubstantive Law, Practice & Procedure, & Evidence

There are a range of options for completing CPD including:

  • participating  in a lecture, seminar, workshop or discussion group either in person or on a web-based program 
  • the research, preparation or editing of a legal article
  • preparing, or presenting, or both, a CPD activity
  • participating as a member of a legal committee, taskforce or practice section, if the work is of substantial significance to the practice of law and assists your professional development
  • completing postgraduate studies relevant to your practice needs
  • undertaking private study of audio/visual materials or other educational activities if it is specifically designed to update your knowledge or skills.