Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Continuing Professional Development Policy?
The Law Society has introduced a Continuing Professional Development Policy (the "CPD Policy") which took effect January 1, 2010. Under the CPD Policy, all active members are required to complete thirty-six (36) hours of Accredited CPD Activities in the most current three-year period, the first of which ends December 31, 2012. This requirement combined with the Ethics Hours requirement and the mandatory Code of Conduct training constitutes the Minimum CPD Requirements under the CPD Policy.
Please note the term is a three-year rolling period. At the beginning of each new year, the calendar year that is four years prior to the current year will no longer be included in the term. This means that the current term at any given point in time consists of the most recent three calendar years ending on December 31 of the current calendar year. For clarification, on any day in 2013, the current term is the three-year period from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013.
- What is the Ethics Hours requirement?
Not less than six (6) hours of the required thirty-six (36) hours must pertain primarily to any one or any combination of the following topics ("Ethics Hours"): Professional Responsibility; Ethics; Practice Standards; The Code of Professional Conduct; Conflict of Interest; Rules of the Law Society; Client Care and Relations; and Practice Management.
- Who is required to meet the Minimum CPD Requirements?
All active members are required to meet the Minimum CPD Requirements in order to maintain practicing status.
All inactive members (ie. those members who have submitted a Declaration of Non-Practice) will receive an exemption at the rate of 1 CPD hour for each full month they are inactive in the current three-year term. The Law Society will not review or assess the reasons for the member being inactive.
Those members who maintain their practicing certificate (and therefore, are considered "active" members) but who are not practicing, can apply for a CPD hour exemption. The Director of Admissions & Education has the discretion to grant an exemption in exceptional circumstances.
For members who are inactive at the end of a three-year term and who failed to meet the minimum CPD requirements for that term, reinstatement to active status may be conditional upon additional CPD requirements at the discretion of the Director of Admissions & Education.
- If a lawyer is admitted part way through the three-year term, are they required to meet the full thirty-six (36) hours?
For new members, your three-year term commences on January 1 of the year you are admitted and the Minimum CPD Requirements will be adjusted to require one (1) CPD Hour for each full or partial calendar month for the remainder of the current year, including the proportionate number of Ethics Hours. So for example, if you were admitted on July 1, 2011 your three-year CPD term would run from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013, but you would receive a credit for 6 CPD hours (1 of which would qualify for ethics) so you would only be required to report an additional 30 CPD hours (5 of which must qualify as ethics hours) by December 31, 2013.
- If a lawyer completes more than thirty-six (36) CPD Hours in the current three-year period, is the lawyer entitled to carry over the balance into the next period?
No, not exactly. However, since the term is a three-year rolling term, in any given calendar year the CPD Hours from the previous two calendar years are still relevant. For clarification, on January 1, 2013 any CPD hours reported in 2010 will "drop off", but the CPD hours from 2011 and 2012 will remain relevant.
- Can a lawyer claim an exemption because the lawyer is too busy to meet the Minimum CPD Requirements?
No exemption is available for being too busy, such as having a lengthy trial.
- Can a lawyer claim an exemption from the Minimum CPD Requirements because the lawyer practises law primarily outside of Saskatchewan?
No exemption is available on the basis that the lawyer practises law outside of Saskatchewan.
- What is the consequence for a lawyer who does not meet the Minimum CPD Requirements by the end of the three-year term?
A lawyer who does not meet the Minimum CPD Requirements by the end of the three-year term is subject to administrative suspension pursuant to Law Society Rule 251.
A lawyer who does not complete the Minimum CPD Requirements prior to the end of the three-year term may submit a remedial CPD plan, along with the prescribed fees in Rule 871, for review and approval by the Director of Admissions & Education. All remedial CPD Activities must be completed by April 1st of the year following the end of the three-year term.
Under special circumstances, the Executive Director of the Law Society may recommend that the suspension be delayed for a specified period of time.
- How will lawyers report their CPD Hours?
Under the CPD Policy, lawyers are required to report their own CPD Hours online. After completing an Accredited CPD Activity, lawyers report such Activity in their Member Profile through the Law Society website.
- Can lawyers report CPD hours if they only attended a portion of a CPD Activity?
Yes, when reporting CPD hours, a lawyer is entitled to report the actual number of hours that they attended/participated in the CPD activity. This means that if a lawyer attended a portion of a CPD activity (ie. came late, left early, etc.), they should report the actual hours they were there as opposed to the maximum hours the CPD activity is approved for. The Law Society may conduct random audits to monitor this issue.
- Will the Law Society audit the CPD Hours reported by lawyers?
Lawyers are responsible to ensure that the CPD Hours they have reported in their Member Profile are correct. As well, lawyers are to retain records of their CPD Activities and to make the records immediately available to the Law Society upon request.
- What is the process for having a CPD Activity approved as an Accredited CPD Activity?
A CPD Activity will be approved by the Law Society as an Accredited CPD Activity in the following two ways:
- Approved Providers are individuals or organizations accredited by the Law Society to provide CPD Activities. All activities provided by the Approved Providers will constitute Accredited CPD Activities.
- Specific activities will be approved by the Law Society either upon application by a provider of the activity or by a lawyer wishing to attend the activity or presenting at the activity.
- What is the overall subject matter requirement under the CPD Policy?
The subject matter of all Accredited CPD Activities must satisfy the following criteria:
- The content must have significant intellectual or practical content with the primary objective of increasing lawyers' professional competence.
- The content should deal with all or any of the following:
- substantive legal issues;
- procedural issues;
- ethical obligations of lawyers;
- practice management;
- client care and relations.
- The content should be designed primarily for lawyers and not for other professions. Courses for business, including leadership skills, project management, marketing skills etc., will not qualify.
- The content should be designed and presented primarily by members of the legal profession.
- The Law Society recognizes and encourages the diversity of legal practice. CPD Hours will be available for content which does not strictly comply with the above criteria if the lawyer can demonstrate that it is directly related to improving professional competence in the lawyer's practice.
- Must the subject matter deal primarily with Saskatchewan law?
Accredited CPD Activities will not be limited to subject matter dealing primarily with the practice of Saskatchewan or Canadian law. Accreditation may be obtained for subject matter relating to the law of other provinces and countries, if related to the conduct of the lawyer's practice.
- What activities will not be approved as Accredited CPD Activities?
- Activities designed for or targeted at clients who are not members of the legal profession.
- Activities relating primarily to law firm marketing or maximizing profit.
- Activities prepared and delivered in the ordinary and usual course of practice.
- How are CPD Hours calculated?
Generally speaking, credit will be given for the actual time a lawyer was in attendance at, or participating in, the CPD Activity, excluding any time that was not related to the CPD Activity, such as time spent on social breaks and/or meals. Partial hours shall be rounded up or down to the closest half hour.
- Are CPD Hours available for activities other than the traditional seminars and conferences?
Yes, the following additional types of CPD Activities are available for CPD Hours:
- Faculty/Panel Members;
- Study groups;
- Local Bar and Canadian Bar Association Section meetings;
- Recorded versions of Accredited CPD Activities; and
- On-line continuing professional development.
- What CPD Hours are available for teaching?
The teaching must be in compliance with the overall subject matter requirements set out in the CPD Policy and must be designed for an audience that is primarily composed of lawyers, paralegals, articling students and/or law students. CPD Hours will not be available if the CPD Activity is targeted primarily at clients, the public, other professions, or students other than law students. You are entitled to report three (3) CPD Hours for each hour you teach/present/instruct at an Accredited CPD Activity. CPD Hours will only be available for the first time the teaching activity is performed in the calendar year.
- What CPD Hours are available for serving as a faculty or panel member?
A lawyer who serves as a faculty member for a skills workshop or a panel member for a panel discussion will be entitled to report two (2) CPD Hours for each hour spent performing their role as a faculty or panel member. The workshop or panel must be part of an Accredited CPD Activity.
- What CPD Hours are available for writing?
CPD Hours are available for writing law books, articles or other legal materials that are intended for publication, or to be included in course materials, including the preparation of materials for a CPD Activity. CPD Hours for writing will also be available for reviewing and updating legal materials intended for publication or inclusion in course materials, where the final product includes substantive new content. However, no CPD Hours are available for simple editing or time spent preparing PowerPoint materials. CPD Hours are available for writing based on the actual time spent to produce the final product, up to a maximum of six (6) hours for each writing project. CPD Hours are available for volunteer or part-time writing only, and not for writing that is done as a part of the lawyer's full-time or regular employment. The available CPD Hours for writing are in addition to the CPD Hours available for teaching or serving as a faculty or panel member.
- What CPD Hours are available for study groups?
CPD Hours are available for study group sessions where at least two or more lawyers meet (including by telephone or other real-time communications technology) to discuss content that is in compliance with the overall subject matter requirements set out in the CPD Policy.
No CPD Hours are available for work on individual client files. The CPD Hours available for credit are the actual time spent attending the study group session, excluding any time that is not related to continuing professional development content. A lawyer must have overall administrative responsibility for each study group session and a lawyer must chair each session. No CPD Hours are available for time spent reading materials, handouts or PowerPoint presentations, whether before or after the study group session.
- What CPD Hours are available for Local Bar and Canadian Bar Association section meetings?
CPD Hours are available for the actual time spent attending a CPD Activity provided by a local bar association in Saskatchewan, as well as for section meetings of the Canadian Bar Association, excluding any portion of the meeting that is not devoted to the CPD Activity, such as time spent on meals.
- What CPD Hours are available for online CPD Activities?
- Group Activity:
CPD Hours are available for on-line group activities. A group is defined as two or more lawyers together in-person or by telephone. Credit Hours are available for the actual time spent by the lawyer participating in "real time" online courses, streamlining video, web and/or telephone courses, but only if, through the course offering, there is an opportunity to ask and answer questions. The CPD Hours available will include the actual time spent by a study group reviewing the previously recorded course.
- CPD Hours are available for viewing a recorded version of an Accredited CPD Activity, in an amount equal to the actual duration of the recording. The recorded version must be a recording of a CPD Activity that would qualify for CPD hours in its live form.
- CPD Hours are available up to a limit (pre-approved by the Law Society) for completion on one's own of an accredited online, audio, video or web course, provided the course includes a quiz component where an answer guide is provided to the lawyer after completion of the quiz (it is not necessary that the lawyer submit the quiz for review), and the lawyer is able to email or telephone a designated moderator with questions and obtain a timely response.
- Are CPD Hours available for listservs, forums and network sites?
No, these forms of learning are not currently available for CPD Hours.
- Are CPD Hours available for mentoring, outside of an accredited study group?
No, CPD Hours are not currently available for mentoring.
For further information please refer to the CPD Policy or contact the Director of Admissions & Education for the Law Society of Saskatchewan at (306) 569-8242 or by email.