Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Requirement Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours

A. Overview

Under the Law Society’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirement, lawyers and paralegals practising law or providing legal services must complete at least 12 CPD Hours every year, consisting of a minimum of 3 Professionalism Hours and up to 9 Substantive Hours annually.

Professionalism Hours include content related to ethics, professional responsibility and/or practice management. Professionalism Hours must be accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The remaining 9 Substantive Hours are not subject to accreditation. Substantive Hours may address substantive or procedural law topics and/or law related subjects that are relevant to the lawyer's or paralegal's practice and professional development.

B. General Principles

Professionalism Hours

In order to qualify for accreditation for Professionalism Hours, programs and content must address topics related to professional responsibility, ethics and/or practice management.

The following factors will be considered in the assessment of programs or activities for accreditation:

  • Relevance of topics in the session or activity to core professionalism principles
  • Time allocated to professionalism content (minimum 15 minutes required)
  • Learning level of subject matter and target audience
  • Overall learning context

C. Criteria Specific to CPD Programs

In order to be eligible for CPD Hours, programs may be delivered in a variety of flexible formats that provide an opportunity for real time interaction with colleagues and/or instructors. Eligible learning formats include live lecture, discussion, demonstration or small group workshop, audio, and interactive online course, videoconference or webcast. 

Archived audio, video or webcast may be viewed without a colleague for a maximum of 6 hours per calendar year. Any archived programs viewed beyond the maximum 6 hours must be viewed simultaneously with at least one other colleague in order to satisfy the interactivity requirement. Self-study activities are not eligible for CPD Hours.

Program speakers may include lawyers, paralegals, members of the judiciary, and non-legal professionals, provided that the content they present addresses topics related to professionalism in a legal context and enhances lawyer and paralegal competence.

D. Professionalism Topics

Programs or activities that include one or more of the concepts listed below may qualify for accreditation. Topics not included below that address a lawyer’s or paralegal’s ethical duties, client service best practices, practice management concepts and/or related professionalism principles may also qualify for accreditation. Members and education providers are encouraged to contact the Law Society at cpdacc@lsuc.on.ca for guidance regarding interpretation and application of the accreditation criteria.

1. Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Content that deals with the obligations set out in the Rules of Professional Conduct and Paralegal Rules of Conduct, By-Laws 7, 7.1, 8, 9 and 14 and related professional responsibility principles. Examples include:

  • Duty to maintain confidentiality, including justified and permitted disclosure (may include discussion of privilege)
  • Duty to avoid and manage conflicts of interest
  • Responding appropriately to client dishonesty or fraud (e.g. mortgage fraud, money laundering, perjury)
  • Duty to act in good faith and avoid sharp practice
  • Obligations when making public statements and public appearances
  • Duties related to advocacy (not to abuse the tribunal process, mislead the tribunal, parameters around communication with witnesses, need for full disclosure, etc.)
  • Requirements related to fees and billing
  • Trust accounting and financial record keeping requirements
  • Duty to report lawyer or paralegal misconduct to the Law Society
  • Obligation to notify the client or insurer of errors or omissions
  • Duty to assist in prevention of unauthorized practice/provision of legal services
  • Optional and mandatory withdrawal from representation
  • Ethical considerations for lawyers or paralegals employed in-house
  • Ethical considerations for lawyers or paralegals employed in public service
  • Required conduct of lawyers or paralegals arising from statute, legislation or other legal authorities
  • Best practices for analyzing ethical dilemmas
2. Client Service
  • Making legal services available to the public and related access to justice principles
  • Determining who the client is (institutional clients, lawful representatives of clients under disabilities, avoiding “phantom” clients)
  • Complying with client identification and verification requirements
  • Recognizing and being sensitive to clients’ circumstances, special needs, and intellectual capacity (e.g., multi-cultural, language, gender, socioeconomic status, demeanour)
  • Managing difficult clients
  • Best practices for retainer agreements, engagement letters and non-engagement letters
  • Timely and effective client communication, including theory and practical application
  • Drafting reporting letters, legal opinions and legal memoranda in plain language, including theory and practical application
  • Conducting effective client interviews and client meetings, including theory and practical application
  • Confirming changes to the terms of engagement
  • Understanding and managing obligations related to joint retainers
  • Managing client expectations related to fees and disbursements
  • Handling client property and money appropriately
  • Dealing effectively with unrepresented persons
  • Recognizing and fulfilling fiduciary obligations
3. Practice Management
  • Marketing legal services in accordance with professional obligations (e.g., advertising nature of practice, advertising fees)
  • Understanding practice arrangements, including  partnerships, multi-discipline practices or partnerships, limited liability partnerships, affiliations, inter-provincial law firms, professional corporations
  • Opening a legal practice or law firm
  • Using conflicts checking systems
  • Maintaining reminder or tickler systems
  • Using effective time management systems
  • Maintaining proper books and records
  • Implementing systems for file organization, retention, and disposal
  • Meeting financial obligations to third parties
  • Managing undertakings
  • Training, supervising and delegating to staff
  • Closing down a legal practice or law firm
  • Succession planning
  • Contingency planning
  • Risk management best practices
  • Understanding the business of law, including financial considerations, client development and strategic planning
  • Technology in a law or legal services practice, including considerations related to security of information, productivity and efficiency
  • Complying with Legal Aid Ontario provisions and procedures
4. Ethical Advocacy
  • Practising with civility in the courtroom or the boardroom
  • Treating the court, tribunal, opposing counsel, parties and others with courtesy and respect
  • Refraining from sharp practice
  • Encouraging respect for legal institutions or authorities
  • Complying with parameters for acting as a witness
  • Complying with parameters for communicating with witnesses giving evidence
  • Complying with parameters for communicating with jurors
5. Other Opportunities Related to Practice Management

Sessions on the following topics must address issues and opportunities that arise within a legal context in order to be eligible for accreditation.

  • Legal project management
  • Respecting multicultural issues and diversity
  • Leadership for legal professionals, excluding law firm or other organization-specific standards for promotion and/or partnership
  • Best practices for career and profile management as a legal professional
  • Mentoring best practices for lawyers and paralegals
  • Work/life balance and wellness principles for lawyers and paralegals, excluding training in yoga, meditation, and nutrition