CPD Points… For most of us lawyers, the acronym CPD, aka ‘Continuing Professional Development’ probably causes your eyes to glaze over with a deep sense of boredom. I don’t think it is any secret, a two day legal conference designed to ensure we all can ‘tick off’ those compulsory 10 points along with the 3 mandatory and some would say, ‘extra boring’ points, is unlikely to have you jumping from the walls like a Katie Perry concert! But here is the thing! I LOVE CPD! Yes I know, you now think I am mad but let me explain…
Last weekend I was hanging out with 30 or so lawyers and business owners during a two day Retreat in beautiful Kingscliff in Northern NSW and I have to say, for me, it was just like being at my favourite pop concert! There was laughter, learning and dancing (and that was during work hours not just late into the evening!) but there was also so much discussion about the fact that legal conferences are just not usually like this!
So that of course got me thinking! Why is it that we lawyers have been content for so many years to sit, stationary in large grey conference rooms as we listen* to the latest complex dissertation on something?
(*well let’s be honest, we are not really listening, most of us are updating our inbox, checking Facebook and chatting to our friends and family on messenger!)
The CPD market is more cluttered than ever- there are conferences, workshops, retreats, webinars and no end of events we can attend but sadly, as I surveyed my colleagues over the weekend, the overarching thoughts were still that CPD is more of a drain than a joy! But it just doesn’t have to be that way.
So here are my suggestions for 5 ways we can all get some of those magical points by March each year without breaking the bank and you might even have some fun along the way-
1. Pull on those headphones and find these Podcasts
So I have to disclose my vested interest in starting with this one as a proud Podcaster myself, but listening to Podcasts would have to be one of the easiest ways you can accrue those points but more importantly learn something cool along the way too! And the best thing about Podcasts is that you can ‘listen’ while doing! And when I say ‘doing’ I don’t mean ‘working’! The point of this was to find ‘FUN’ ways of earning those CPD requirements so why not plug in those earphones, toss on your running shoes and head outside for an hour of exercise and learning all in one! There are so many great legal & business Podcasts these days and just in case you haven’t ventured into the wide world of audio learning before, here is a video I made earlier that will help you find just what you need! And when it comes to legal & business Podcasts a few of my favourites include-
- The Gen Why Lawyer Podcast produced by Lawyer Nicole Abboud from beautiful LA which is not just for those of us born after 1990;
- The Happy Lawyer Project by Okeoma Moronu another USA based lawyer who shares insights with all sorts of guests to help us lawyers find a bit more happiness in practice;
- Compos Mentis produced by fellow Australian lawyers Natalie Campbell and Jennifer Lim talking all things law:
- Small Business Big Marketing Show by Austalian Tim Reid is full of great business advice and shares the stories of many local business heroes:
- And my shameless plug…. My show ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ where I interview lawyers all over the Country about their careers in law with a focus on how they manage the challenge of our often stressful profession.
There are literally thousands of hours of online listening and learning to be done thanks to the world of Podcasts and the best bit, it is all FREE! So there is no excuse, grab those headphones and give it a go!
2. Audio Books
On the same vein as the above, audio books are a wonderful tool for free (well almost free) and easy learning. Just like with Podcasts, you can easily access audio books on your iPhone and take them with you wherever you go! Now it may take a few years before we find the entire CCH text book collection in Audible but in the meantime you can access an endless array of legal, business, psychology and wellness books that will have you thinking and improving your work day before you can say ‘May it please the Court’! And just like with the Podcasts above, you can listen and ‘do’ so why not load up something new this weekend while you pace up and down the backyard mowing that lawn!
3. A purposeful catch up with your Lawyer friends
Yes I am suggesting that you can catch up with your mates and tick off those points all at the same time! But to be clear, we can’t just catch up and natter about the latest episode of The Bachelor or the Grand Final result on the weekend! No, we have much more exciting things to discuss…. ethics! Yes, you heard me… ETHICS! I can see your face now. It is scrunched as you are trying to understand why I would ever suggest that ethics should form the topic of at least an hour long dinner conversation but hear me out! Those compulsory points are always the hardest to find and I may be making a broad generalisation here, but they tend to be the most difficult presentations to listen to! So why not grab your friends and each arrive with 2 or 3 challenges you have faced in practice this year and openly ask and discuss how you might deal with them next time. You can have the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules and all other necessary pieces of legislation sitting at your fingertips while you do. For so many of us, we learn best when we can share our experience and hear the experiences of others. Working in law is stressful and often we don’t share or debrief enough so consider this activity a purposeful catch up with the people you love, full of fun and learning- but go easy on the wine until the learning is done!
4. It’s time to get to writing!
Yes writing an article, preparing a paper or a presentation is a great way of earning those CPD points! When we think of writing as a lawyer our minds tend to wander to those complicated assignments we last completed years ago at Law School. But fear not! I am not suggesting you get stuck into a PHD! Instead I am suggesting you put fingers to keyboard and start bashing out a few 1,000 word articles you can share, just like this one, that get you thinking and might even have your colleagues smiling at the other end. Writing is not for everyone, but if you do enjoy getting lost in your thoughts then collating those thoughts and publishing them on platforms such as LinkedIn or presenting them at local events will have you chewing off those CPD points faster than you can say “Objection your Honour”!
5. And don’t overlook old fashioned reading!
And yes, my final tip, particularly if writing is just not your thing, read. Pick up an old fashioned hard covered book and just read for the sake of it. Why not head off to your local Supreme Court Library, pull up a comfy chair and just get lost in learning like we used to before emails, internet and social media arrived to constantly interrupt our lives. Take a friend or a colleague and share a coffee as you discuss your learnings. Reading has so many benefits for our brains, but for many of us, the joy in reading is soon lost after we join ‘Law Land’. Our days are filled with reading but so little of it is joyous so why not set aside some time to head out and calm your mind with something new, different or ‘just because’- you will thank me for it I promise you!
There are so many more ways we can work those dreaded CPD requirements into our work lives that won’t cost you a cent- well except maybe the refreshments that add to the experience! So why not make CPD part of the fun rather than something we need to ‘tick off’ while trying to stay awake in the back of a large hotel conference room. And if you have any other suggestions for fun, inexpensive ways to tick off those points, send them my way!
**in the interests of a good legal disclaimer you should check out your local Law Association CPD requirements before following any of the advice above 😊
Clarissa Rayward is a Divorce Lawyer and the Owner of Brisbane Family Law Centre. Over the past 14 years, Clarissa has worked with over 2000 families during separation and divorce. She specialises in assisting her clients to experience a dignified divorce- staying away from the Court process and finding sustainable agreements for the future. This past year Clarissa has begun to tackle the challenging issue of unhappiness in the legal profession through her writing and weekly Podcast ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ where once a week she interviews lawyers who have found a way to maintain a successful career in the law while not giving up their life outside of their career.
In January 2017 Clarissa published her second book, ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life- How to the be Happy in Law and Life’ and launched the first ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ online course, helping lawyers nationwide to better understand how they can drive happiness in their careers. Clarissa has also formed ‘The Club’ an online membership program for entrepreneurial lawyers looking to make the best out of their lives in and outside of the Law.
You can order a copy of Clarissa’s Book or find out more about her Online Course and Podcast below.