You might be interested to know that a lawyer’s education and professional development do not end after being called to the bar. Lawyers, like other professionals, have an ongoing obligation to ensure that their knowledge and skills remain “current.” In Canada, lawyers are regulated provincially. As a result, the technical requirements for professional development vary from province to province.
In Alberta, lawyers must prepare an individualized Continuing Professional Development Plan annually, and provide a declaration to the Law Society of Alberta confirming this. The content and time requirements for the plan are not mandated; lawyers can choose the various activities to be included in their plan to meet their personal goals and objectives. Common activities that might be included are:
- Attendance at educational seminars;
- Individualized research or reading;
- Completion of courses;
- Review of journals or other publications on a recurring basis; and
- Participation as an instructor for seminars or courses.
Other provinces in Canada are more prescriptive with respect to professional development and require that lawyers track hours spent on approved activities. For example, in Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada requires practicing lawyers to complete at least 12 hours in “eligible educational activities” consisting of a minimum of 3 hours on topics related to professional responsibility and ethics, and up to 9 hours on issues relating to substantive or procedural law topics or skills. In British Columbia, the requirements are similar (12 hours of time spent) but the breakdown of those hours is slightly different. In Saskatchewan, the focus is on 36 hours of “accredited CPD activities” over a 3 year period. In Manitoba, 1 hour must be spent on professional development each month.
In the end, however, regardless of the specific technical requirements, professional development is an extremely important issue. At Patriot Law Group, we take our professional development very seriously. All of our lawyers have detailed professional development plans in place so that we can ensure we are always in a position to provide the best advice and legal services to our clients.