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Continuing Professional Development Requirement

COVID-19 UPDATE: Lawyers or paralegals who have questions about their annual CPD requirement in the context of COVID-19 should refer to the Law Society’s Response FAQ on CPD Requirements and changes to limits on Eligible Educational Activities.

What is the CPD Requirement?

Lawyers and paralegals who are practising law or providing legal services must complete in each calendar year at least 12 CPD Hours in Eligible Educational Activities consisting of a minimum of 3 Professionalism Hours on topics related to professional responsibility, ethics and/or practice management and up to 9 Substantive Hours per year.

Effective January 1, 2018, lawyers and paralegals must complete the CPD Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Requirement. Lawyers and paralegals must complete a total of 3 Professionalism Hours that focus on advancing equality, diversity and inclusion in the lawyer and paralegal professions between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020. Each year thereafter, lawyers and paralegals must complete 1 Professionalism Hour that addresses issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. These hours count towards the 3 CPD Professionalism Hours required each year. See Changes to the CPD Requirement for background information on the CPD EDI Requirement.

Only Professionalism Hours, including EDI Professionalism Hours, must be accredited by the Law Society. See CPD Accreditation for Licensees for information on the standards and requirements for accreditation.  

The remaining 9 Substantive Hours need not be accredited.  Substantive Hours may address substantive or procedural law topics and/or related skills. Non-legal subjects may also be eligible for Substantive Hours if they are relevant to the lawyer's or paralegal's practice and professional development.

Who has to fulfill the CPD Requirement?

Lawyers and paralegals in the 100% fee-paying category are subject to the CPD Requirement. In addition, lawyers and paralegals in other fee categories (i.e., 10%, 25%, and 50%) who are providing legal services that are either based on Ontario or Canadian law (including on a pro bono basis), are subject to the CPD Requirement. Licensees in fee categories other than the 100% category who are not practising Ontario or Canadian law are exempt from the CPD Requirement. However, lawyers and paralegals are subject to the CPD Requirement for each month that they are in a 100% fee-paying category. See By-Law 6.1 and Fee Categories for more information. Lawyers and paralegals who need guidance to determine their membership category should contact the Law Society's Client Service Centre at (416) 947-3315, or toll-free at 1-800-668-7380, ext. 3315.

While the Law Society encourages all lawyers and paralegals to engage in equality, diversity and inclusion training, only lawyers and paralegals who are subject to the CPD Requirement (detailed above) are required to complete the CPD EDI Requirement.

What is the purpose of the CPD Requirement?

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. The Law Society has an important role to play in supporting the efforts of lawyers and paralegals to maintain and enhance that competence. It also has a duty to ensure that all persons who practise law or provide legal services in Ontario meet standards of learning, professional competence and conduct that are appropriate for the legal services they provide.

See Convocation Reports about the CPD Requirement for more information.

See Changes to the CPD Requirement for background on the changes made following the Law Society’s two-year review of the program.

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