Paralegal CPD Hours Decoded

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What is the CPD Requirement, who must meet it, and what does it mean for you?

Convocation has changed elements of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Requirement. Some changes took effect May 30, 2013; others are being phased-in. Read about those changes in SCOPE.

CPD is mandatory for paralegals who are providing legal services and fall within the 100 per cent membership category. LSUC provides these reasons at its website:

    “Continuing professional development (CPD) is defined as the maintenance and enhancement of a lawyer’s or paralegal’s professional knowledge, skills, attitudes and professionalism throughout the individual’s career. It is a positive tool that benefits lawyers and paralegals and is an essential component of the commitment they make to the public to practise law or provide legal services competently and ethically.”

This is how the CPD Requirement breaks down for paralegals, and what the important terms mean:

    Professionalism Hours:

Professionalism Hours are LSUC-accredited programs and activities on ethics, professional responsibility and/or practice management. Experienced paralegals must complete a minimum of three Professionalism Hours per calendar year. These hours may include time spent teaching topics of professional responsibility, ethics or practice management.

If a program focusing on substantive or procedural law includes professionalism content on related topics and issues, that portion of the program may be eligible for Professionalism Hours. Professionalism topics include: client identification, managing the difficult client, dealing with self-represented parties, and risk management.

Excess Professionalism Hours — more than the necessary nine — may be put towards Substantive Hours if there is a shortfall in that category, but not vice-versa.

    Substantive Hours:

These are programs and activities that address substantive and procedural law, related skills, or relevant non-legal topics. Substantive hours do not require accreditation by the Law Society. Experienced paralegals may complete up to nine substantive hours per calendar year. These hours may include time spent teaching substantive or procedural law. Teaching time may be counted for a total of six hours per year. (Professionalism, Substantive or both)

    Accredited programs:

These are formal, instruction-based sessions, usually offered by organizations such as education providers, associations, law firms, government associations and industry groups. Self-study does not count.

    Accredited activities:

A broad range of non-program learning methods such as teaching, writing, mentoring, and participation in study groups of two or more colleagues may count as accredited activities.

Such activities qualify for Professionalism Hours only if the Law Society accredits them in advance. If the time is being put towards Substantive Hours, these activities do not need to be pre-approved. Viewing archived webcasts, video replays or other recorded program formats without a colleague, and participating in asynchronous, online courses which prompt responses throughout the learning process are eligible activities for up to six CPD hours in the year.

    Alternate Educational Activities:

This term includes a range of alternate educational activities in a non-formal setting.

Among the alternative activities are: teaching; mentoring or being mentored, or supervising a paralegal field placement; writing and editing books or articles; participating in study groups with two or more paralegals; educational activities in which the subject matter is related to the law of other provinces and countries, including non-legal subjects, if these are relevant to the paralegal’s practice and development as a practitioner.

Information sessions for clients, or writing and editing client bulletins, for the purpose of “teaching” may be eligible, if these are not primarily a “sales pitch.” These activities must maintain or enhance the paralegal’s professional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and ethics.

Alternate educational activities must be accredited in advance by the Law Society to count towards Professionalism CPD hours. See the record-keeping requirements for alternative activities.

    Professionalism Case Study:

These are descriptions of real-life situations in which a paralegal is faced with a decision involving one or more ethical, professional responsibility or practice management issues. These studies are eligible for accreditation when they are used in the context of Study Group sessions or programs involving two or more paralegals. The Study Group session must be accredited in advance to quality for CPD hours for facilitators and participants.

    New Member Requirement:

Special requirements for practising paralegals in their first two years, are being phased-out. Starting in 2014, new members will have to meet the same 12-hour yearly CPD Requirement as experienced licensees and the .05-Professionalism minimum will no longer apply.

    Consequences of non-compliance:

Failure to comply with CPD requirements could lead to administrative suspension from practice. Keep written confirmation of registration at CPD programs, program materials, attendee lists and discussion notes. For a detailed outline of required documentation according to the type of eligible educational activity, see the Law Society PDF.

    More information:
    • Read more about the changes in this SCOPE article.
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    • To find LSUC programs, see the CPD calendar.
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    • How to enter those CPD Requirement Hours: the Law Society’s Instructions.

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