All active members are required to accumulate a minimum of 12 CPD hours annually, with the first term ending December 31, 2020. Not less than 2 of the required hours must pertain primarily to any one or any combination of the following topics (ethics hours):
Please refer to Schedule B in the CPD Policy for detailed “ethics hours” criteria.
Yes, members are allowed to carry over up to 12 CPD hours (2 of which can qualify as ethics) into the consecutive year. Therefore, if a member attends a multi-day CPD program that qualifies for more than 12 CPD hours, they will not lose those additional hours because they are able to carry over up to 12 hours into the consecutive calendar year.
In order to facilitate a smooth transition to the one-year term, members are allowed to carry over CPD hours reported in 2018 and 2019 (up to a maximum of 24 CPD hours, 4 of which can be ethics), into 2020. The 12-hour (2 ethics hour) carryover provision is then triggered for 2021.
This means that a member can carry over up to 24 CPD hours into 2020 and anything over 12 hours will then be further carried over to 2021. With this transition plan, no member will be in a more difficult position than they would have been if the Law Society continued with the three-year rolling term because under that structure, the 2017 hours would have “dropped off” in 2020 – therefore, in 2020 a member could only count hours reported as far back as 2018. Even if a member has reported all 36 hours in 2019, under both the old and the new system, they will not need to report any further CPD hours until 2022.
The transition for ethics hours will work the same way. Specifically, members will be allowed to carry over ethics hours reported in 2018 and 2019 (up to a maximum of 4 ethics hours) into 2020, and then the 2-hour carryover provision is triggered for 2021. This means a member can carry over up to 4 ethics hours into 2020 and anything over 2 hours will then be further carried over to 2021. Again, with this plan, no member will be “worse off” than they would have been if we continued with the three-year rolling term.
Yes, with the change to a one-year CPD term and a necessary upgrade to our membership and reporting database, the CPD reporting process will eventually look different. However, the upgraded database will not be implemented until early 2021, so in the meantime, the process for reporting your CPD hours will remain unchanged. Instructions related to reporting CPD hours in the upgraded database will be provided in due course.
In changing to a one-year term, the Law Society expects to accomplish the following:
a) Lessen the complexity of the mandatory CPD structure in order to reduce confusion and errors experienced by our membership and eliminate the challenges associated with administering the complicated three-year rolling system.
A one-year term will simplify members’ compliance with the CPD Policy, as well as, Administration’s regulation of the CPD Policy. Despite operating under a three year-rolling term regime for more than 8 years, we continue to receive inquiries related to the rolling term and the application of it in different situations. As well, we frequently discover errors in members’ reporting – for example, when a member reports that they watched a recorded CPD event in the year it was recorded (2018), rather than the year they watched it (2019). In that situation, they will lose those CPD hours when 2018 “drops off”, but had it been reported correctly, the member would have maintained those hours until 2019 “dropped off”. This is just one of numerous examples which is eliminated with the implementation of a one-year term.
Our goal in mandating CPD is to ensure our members maintain professional competence in their practice. This requires our members to commit time to CPD which, we appreciate, takes them away from their practice. We do not want to further burden our members with a CPD reporting process that is cumbersome and complicated as that does not assist or support our goal of increasing lawyer competence. There is value in simplicity and this is especially true when added complexity provides no added value, which is the scenario we find ourselves in with the current three-year rolling term.
Further, since our move to a one-year CPD term includes an allowance for 12 hours (2 ethics) of carry-over to the next year, the concern of “wasted” CPD hours is essentially alleviated. A one-year CPD term with carry-over results in simplicity while still providing flexibility to our members to accumulate their CPD hours by attending a major conference every two years (because, practically speaking, a member will only need to accumulate 24 CPD hours every two years).
b) Increase consistency with other jurisdictions across Canada.
Out of the 13 jurisdictions in Canada, 11 of them have mandatory CPD hour requirements and all of them run on a one-year term, other than Quebec (2-year term), Prince Edward Island (2-year term) and Saskatchewan (3-year term). The other two jurisdictions, Alberta and Nova Scotia, have a mandatory CPD Plan as opposed to a CPD hour requirement.
Organizations and lawyers who operate in more than one jurisdiction find the inconsistencies (and sometimes conflicts) between the CPD requirements in the different jurisdictions challenging. This challenge is being expressed more and more often, including at the Federation level. Not coincidentally, there has been talk at the Federation level about the development of national CPD standards. At one time, a Federation President stated that key Federation goals for that year should include the development and adoption of national standards for mandatory CPD. Although nothing has come of this, in part because of the daunting nature of the task, if it was to happen, it is extremely likely that it would be implemented on a one-year term basis. Even if it does not become a national initiative, it makes sense to be in line with other Canadian jurisdictions given that lawyer mobility is permitted across Canada and being utilized increasingly each year.
c) Decrease the complexity and cost associated with developing and maintaining an accurate CPD reporting database.
The logistics involved with tracking and reporting our members’ CPD hours on a three-year rolling term are far more difficult and complicated than was ever anticipated by us or Alinity (the software company that developed our membership database). The time and money that it would take to continue to develop and maintain sufficient tracking and reporting features in our database for a three-year rolling term is problematic.
We are currently upgrading our Alinity database. During this process we have had numerous discussions with Alinity representatives related to the issues and challenges associated with our three-year rolling term. They admit that although they envisioned some difficulties with it when we initially implemented the Alinity CPD database in 2010, they did not anticipate the extent of the challenges. Now that they have a better understanding of our CPD requirements, and the many intricate nuances and requirements, they have strongly recommended that we move to a one-year term. The logistics of a one-year term are so much simpler than a three-year rolling term, even with the addition of the carry-over functionality (each year, any CPD hours earned that year in excess of 12 hours would simply populate into the reported hours for the next year).
The timing of our proposed move to a one-year term is directly linked to the Alinity upgrade which is underway. The version of Alinity that we are currently using will no longer be supported after 2020 so we are required to upgrade to the new version. Fortunately, the upgraded version includes significant improvements to the look and functionality of the database, so we are happy to make the transition.
However, the upgrade is a significant undertaking because many aspects of our database, including the CPD reporting segment, were created as customized add-ons so they would need to be redeveloped and customized in the upgraded version. With the move to a one-year term at this point, the time and effort required to develop and customize the CPD reporting database in the new version is significantly reduced. Further, many features and functionality that would have been a custom add-on in our current version now form part of the basic package in the upgraded version, for example the carry-over functionality. Therefore, it makes sense to move to a one-year term, rather than re-develop and customize the very complicated and cumbersome CPD database needed to support the three-year rolling term.
When the CPD Policy was originally drafted in 2009 and implemented in 2010, it required members to accumulate 36 CPD hours in a fixed three-year term which commenced on January 1, 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. Following that, all terms were to run for consecutive three-year periods, which means the slate would be wiped clean on December 31, 2012 and the new term would run from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2015.
In 2011, concerns were raised as to the period of time a member could potentially go without attending any CPD activities. For example, a lawyer who accumulated 36 CPD hours in 2010 would not be required to attend any further CPD activities until 2015 (the year that the second three-year term would end). To resolve this issue, the CPD Policy was changed in 2011 to provide for a three-year rolling term as opposed to three-year fixed consecutive terms.
To summarize, the first CPD term commenced on January 1, 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. Immediately thereafter, the term became a three-year rolling period which worked as follows:
At the beginning of each new year, the calendar year that was four years prior to the current year was no longer included in the current term. That meant that the relevant term at any given point in time consisted of the most recent three calendar years ending on December 31st of the current calendar year.
No further changes had been made to the CPD term since 2012, until the change to a one-year CPD term which took effect January 1, 2020.