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CPD Accreditation for Licensees

 A. Introduction

B. Accreditation Criteria 

C. Individual Program Application Process 

D. Frequently Asked Questions — Accreditation Process

E. Frequently Asked Questions — Accreditation of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Content 

F. Accredited Provider Framework

 A. Introduction

Lawyers and paralegals must complete in each calendar year at least 12 CPD Hours in Eligible Educational Activities, consisting of a minimum of 3 Professionalism Hours and up to 9 Substantive Hours per year. 

Between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020, 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. Each year thereafter, lawyers and paralegals must complete 1 Professionalism Hour that addresses equality, diversity and inclusion principles. These hours count towards the 3 Professionalism Hours required each year.  

Only Professionalism Hours must be accredited by the Law Society. 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 towards Substantive Hours if they are relevant to the lawyer's or paralegal's practice and professional development.


B. Accreditation Criteria

Programs and activities must meet the standards outlined in the Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours in order to qualify for accreditation.

In order to be eligible for Professionalism Hours, programs and activities may address topics from one or more of the following categories of professionalism content: professional responsibility, ethics, practice management and/or equality, diversity and inclusion. Professionalism content may be included as one or more topics within a substantive law program; offered as part of a series of programs related by subject matter; or presented as a stand-alone program. Alternate eligible educational activities such as teaching, writing/editing, mentoring, and study groups may also be accredited for Professionalism Hours if they address professionalism topics.

Professionalism Hours are calculated based on actual time spent on professionalism topics in a program or activity. For example, where a program contains 1 hour of professionalism content, the program will be accredited for 1 Professionalism Hour. Substantive content included in the same program does not need to be accredited to be eligible for Substantive Hours. A minimum of 15 minutes of professionalism content must be included in the program or activity to be eligible for accreditation.


C. Individual Application Process

1. Application Date

Content should receive accreditation from the Law Society prior to the delivery date of the program or activity.

2. Application Forms and Deadlines

(a) CPD Programs

Application for Accreditation

To facilitate accreditation of Professionalism Hours in advance of the delivery date of the program, providers must submit a completed Application for Accreditation - Program (PDF) together with a highlighted program agenda, a minimum of 30 days prior to the delivery date of the program.

Application for Re-accreditation

Providers whose CPD program was accredited by the Law Society for Professionalism Hours prior to December 31, 2017 may apply to have the program re-accredited to take into account the part or parts of the program that focus on EDI topics. To apply for re-accreditation, providers must submit a completed copy of the Application for Re-accreditation – Program (PDF) together with all supporting documentation a minimum of 30 days prior to the program date.

(b) CPD Activities

Lawyers and paralegals seeking accreditation of activities such as teaching, writing, study groups or mentoring must complete an Application for Accreditation - Alternate Eligible Educational Activities (PDF) a minimum of 30 days in advance of the commencement date of the proposed activity.

3. Expedited Review

Applications submitted fewer than 30 days prior to the program date may not be considered for accreditation prior to the program date unless the applicant makes an expedited review request to the Law Society for special consideration. 

Requests for special consideration will only be granted in circumstances where a program is:

i. being expedited to address a change in legislation or procedure, a precedent-setting decision or other time-sensitive issue; and
ii. scheduled at least three days from the Application date.

The Law Society will review each application for completeness upon receipt. If the Application is approved, the Law Society will notify the provider or licensee as to whether the program is accredited for Professionalism Hours. If additional information or revisions are required to complete the Application, the Law Society will notify the applicant. The applicant may then revise and resubmit the Application.

4. Response Time

The Law Society will endeavour to respond to applicants within 15 business days from the initial receipt of a completed Application. Accreditation review may be delayed if the Application is incomplete or if more information is required.

5. Communication Guidelines

See Communication Guidelines for Providers.

6. Accreditation Period

Accreditation is valid as long as the content is aligned with the Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours. Providers must routinely review and, where applicable, update their archived content to ensure that it remains current and relevant.

7. Changes to Accredited Programs or Activities

The Law Society recognizes that changes to the program or activity content may occur after the program has been accredited. If a change is made to the title or timing of an accredited program, the provider is required to notify the Law Society. If significant changes are made to the program or activity content, the provider or member must reapply for accreditation.

8. Record-Keeping and Monitoring

Providers whose program content has been accredited by the Law Society are required to implement record-keeping systems and be able to provide licensees with written confirmation of their registration at the program. The Law Society may also require providers to submit the registration and/or attendance records of the licensees who registered and/or attended the accredited program.

To validate the information contained in the Application and to assess the content of an accredited program or activity, the Law Society may

  1. attend the program; and
  2. require the provider to supply a copy of the program materials.

In addition, licensees should retain materials such as agendas, papers, and discussion notes on file until the end of the year following the year in which the accredited program or activity was completed. For a detailed outline of required documentation according to the type of eligible educational activity, please see Record Keeping Standards - Evidence of Compliance with Section 4 of By-Law 6.1 (PDF)

9. Application Information and Law Society Portal

Licensees enter program details on their own using a free-form entry screen, including those that contain Professionalism Hours.

Once a program is accredited for Professionalism Hours the Law Society will notify the provider. The provider is responsible for ensuring attendees have all of the program information to allow them to enter their attendance on the Law Society’s Portal. The Law Society will have accreditation information for programs approved outside of the Accredited Provider Framework. For attendance at Accredited Provider programs, please contact the provider directly for program information. The Law Society agrees to keep Applications from providers, including information about program agendas, confidential.

Once an activity is accredited for Professionalism Hours, the Law Society will notify the licensee. Once the accredited activity is completed, the licensee can log into their Portal account to update their hours to reflect the hours listed on the Notice of Accreditation.  

10. Revocation of Accreditation

If Law Society monitoring reveals that a provider's accredited professionalism content does not meet the criteria, accreditation for the Professionalism Hours of that provider's program may be suspended or revoked at the discretion of the Executive Director, Professional Development and Competence of the Law Society.


D. Frequently Asked Questions — Accreditation Process

1. Do lawyers and paralegals have to complete accredited programs and activities to fulfill the CPD Requirement?

Yes. Licensees are required to complete a minimum of 3 Professionalism Hours (professional responsibility, ethics and/or practice management) and up to 9 Substantive Hours per calendar year. In addition, between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020 licensees must complete a total of 3 Professionalism Hours that focus on advancing equality, diversity and inclusion in the lawyer and paralegal professions. Each year thereafter, licensees must complete 1 Professionalism Hour that addresses equality, diversity and inclusion principles. These hours count towards the 3 Professionalism Hours required each year.

Only Professionalism Hours must be accredited by the Law Society. Substantive Hours do not have to be accredited and may address substantive or procedural law topics, and/or related skills.

2. If a program focuses on substantive or procedural law, do providers have to apply for accreditation?

No. Substantive content is not subject to accreditation. If a program focusing on substantive or procedural law includes professionalism content on related topics and issues, that portion of the program may be eligible for Professionalism Hours.

Examples:

A program on developments in corporate/commercial law could contain content on one or more of the following professionalism topics: managing client expectations in a commercial transaction, identifying and managing conflicts of interest, billing the corporate client, or marketing your corporate and commercial expertise to clients.

A program on custody and access in family law matters could contain content on one or more of the following professionalism topics: client identification, managing the difficult client, dealing with the self-represented party and risk management.

A series of programs on special needs trusts could include content on communicating with clients with diminished capacity.

See Application Process for more information.

3. What is the minimum amount of time that will be considered for accreditation?

Programs and activities must contain a minimum of 15 minutes of professionalism content to qualify for accreditation. 

4. What is the process for accreditation of programs and activities?

Providers and licensees must submit the appropriate application a minimum of 30 days prior to the date of the program or activity and provide the necessary information. The Law Society will review the Application for completeness and notify you as to whether or not the content of your program or activity has been accredited. If additional information or revisions are required to complete the Application, the Law Society will provide you with specific details regarding the information needed to complete the Application. If you choose to resubmit the Application, the Law Society will consider the revised Application.

5. Have the accreditation application forms changed? 

Yes, the accreditation application for both programs and activities have changed to reflect the new CPD EDI Requirement. The accreditation applications now give licensees and providers an opportunity to indicate what part or parts of the program or activity include EDI content and how that content is connected to the Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours. The accreditation application for programs requires providers and licensees to provide this information for each program session.

6. Where can I find the new application forms?

Click here for the Application for Accreditation – Program.
Click here for the Application for Accreditation - Alternate Eligible Educational Activities. 

7. Is it possible to obtain accreditation for the professionalism content of a program scheduled less than 30 days from the Application date?

If you seek accreditation for a program to be held less than 30 days from the Application date and wish to receive accreditation prior to the program date you may request special consideration and explain your reasons on the Application. Special consideration will only be granted to programs being expedited to provide licensees with timely information on significant changes in the law. To enable the Law Society to review the expedited program, the provider must schedule the program for a date no earlier than three business days from the Application date. Applications that do not qualify for expedited review will be reviewed within standard processing timelines. The Law Society cannot guarantee that an assessment will be complete prior to the program date.

 8. When can I expect to receive a response from the Law Society to my Application?

The Law Society will endeavour to respond within 15 business days from the initial receipt of a completed Application. Accreditation may be delayed if the Application is incomplete or if more information is required.

 9. How are CPD Hours calculated?

Professionalism Hours are calculated based on actual time spent on professionalism topics in a program or activity. For example, where a program contains 1 hour of professionalism content, the program will be accredited for 1 Professionalism Hour. Substantive content included in the same program does not need to be accredited to be eligible for Substantive Hours.

10. Will a CPD program qualify for accreditation if it is viewed as a webcast?

Programs may be delivered in a variety of flexible formats, including live lecture, discussion, demonstration, small-group workshop, interactive online course, audio and webcast (either live or archived). For a live webcast to be interactive, there must be an opportunity to pose a question during the program via e-mail or some other interactive mechanism. Similarly, viewing an archived or recorded program with another colleague qualifies as interactive. For example, a licensee of a small firm may arrange to watch an archived video webcast with colleagues and then have a group discussion about the issues raised after the presentation.

Viewing archived or recorded webcasts, video replays, or other recorded program formats without a colleague are eligible educational activities for up to 6 hours per year.

 11. How long is accreditation valid for?

Accreditation is valid as long as the content presented is current and relevant to the registrant’s practice. Providers must routinely review and, where applicable, update their live and archived content to ensure their content is current, relevant and aligned with the Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours.

12. May I submit one Application for the professionalism content of more than one program or activity?

No, a separate Application is required for the professionalism content of each program or activity for which you seek accreditation. Only one Application is required for the professionalism content of programs or activities with related subject matter that are presented as a series.

13. What if the content or timing of my program or activity changes after the program has been accredited?

If the program or activity title or timing has changed, providers should notify the Law Society as soon as possible so that we can update our records. If the professionalism content of the program or activity has changed significantly, a new application is required. Otherwise, you do not need to reapply for accreditation. The original accreditation will still apply.

14. How will the Law Society monitor my program or activity?

The Law Society will conduct random requests for program or activity materials and/or in person program or activity audits to ensure alignment with the Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours. The Law Society may also audit providers' registration records for the purpose of determining licensee compliance with the CPD Requirement.

In addition, the Law Society will audit licensees to verify completion of CPD Hours. Please see Record Keeping Standards - Evidence of Compliance with Section 4 of By-Law 6.1 (PDF) for more information on required documentation according to the type of eligible educational activity.



E. Frequently Asked Questions — Accreditation of EDI Content

1. What are the accreditation criteria for EDI Professionalism Hours?

The criteria for EDI Professionalism Hours can be found in the Accreditation Criteria for Professionalism Hours, listed under Professionalism Topics.

Examples of topics that may or will be eligible for accreditation as EDI Professionalism Hours are found on the Frequently Asked Questions about the CPD EDI Requirement.

Programs must contain a minimum of 15 minutes of EDI professionalism content to qualify for accreditation.

2. What is the Law Society’s approach to accreditation of programs or alternate activities under the EDI professionalism criteria?

The Law Society has adopted a flexible and iterative approach to EDI Professionalism Hours to ensure that the objectives of the Working Group set out in the Final Report of the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group are supported. The Working Group identified three objectives:

(1) Inclusive legal workplaces in Ontario;
(2) Reduction of barriers created by racism, unconscious bias and discrimination; and
(3) Better representation of racialized licensees, in proportion to the representation in the Ontario population, in the professions, in all legal workplaces and at all levels of seniority.

Programs that advance equality, diversity and inclusion in the professions or that support progress towards the objectives identified will qualify for EDI Professionalism Hours.

3. What is the process for accreditation of EDI programs and activities?

The process for accreditation of EDI programs and activities is the same as the process for accrediting other professionalism content. For information about the application process and timelines for accrediting professionalism content see D. Frequently Asked Questions – Accreditation Process

4. Can providers have previously accredited CPD programs re-accredited for EDI Professionalism Hours? 

Yes, providers whose CPD program was accredited by the Law Society for Professionalism Hours prior to December 31, 2017 may apply to have the program re-accredited to take into account the part or parts of the program that focus on EDI topics.

5. What is the process for re-accreditation of professionalism content under the EDI criteria? 

To apply for re-accreditation of EDI professionalism content, providers must submit a completed copy of the Application for Re-accreditation – Program (PDF) at any time prior to or following the program. Applications must be completed and submitted no later than 30 days prior to the program date in order to facilitate re-accreditation in advance of the delivery of the program. 

As with all other accreditation applications, the Law Society will review the Re-accreditation Application for completeness and notify you as to whether or not the content of your program has been re-accredited for EDI Professionalism Hours. The Law Society will endeavour to respond within 15 business days from the initial receipt of a completed Re-Accreditation Application. Accreditation may be delayed if the Re-accreditation Application is incomplete or if more information is required.

6. Where can I find more information about the CPD EDI Requirement? 

The Law Society has developed Frequently Asked Questions about the CPD EDI Requirement. These FAQs explain who must complete the EDI Requirement, what the Requirement is, when the Requirement must be completed, and how lawyers and paralegals will be able to identify programs containing EDI content. 


F. Accredited Provider Framework

The Law Society offers an accredited provider framework for CPD programs. Under this framework, providers can apply to obtain Accredited Provider of Professionalism Content status which allows them to deliver professionalism content in CPD programs and courses without seeking accreditation from the Law Society. See Accredited Provider Framework for more information. 


Questions?
For additional information please contact us by e-mail at cpdacc@lso.ca or by phone at 1-800-668-7380 ext. 2938 or 416-947-3300, ext. 2938.