Creating an annual CPD plan

Your continuing professional development plan is personal to you. You may be looking to keep up to date in your current areas of practice or even changing the area(s) of law in which you practice. Your plan is meant to consider the professional development you need in the upcoming year and also in the future. To ensure you are considering all the competencies a lawyer may need, refer to the CPD Plan: General information page.

To create an effective CPD Plan, consider the following:

1. Start with where you are now – identify your strengths and weaknesses. Refer to feedback you receive from employers, colleagues and educators.

  • What do you enjoy about your current work? Which activities / clients / areas of law give you most satisfaction? The least satisfaction?
  • What are your specific strengths and weaknesses? (Communication skills, client base, networking skills, leadership skills, administrative skills, practice area knowledge, likeability, etc.)

2. Identify where you want or need to be in the future by using “reverse goal setting”. This involves identifying your ‘end goal’ and working backwards, outlining specific steps to get you there.

  • Where do you want your career to go? What clients would you like to work with? What does your ‘ideal’ career look like?
  • Where do you see yourself in three/five/10 years (choose as appropriate)? What skills are required to be successful? What other factors will help get you there? (Relocation, retraining, promotion, etc.)
  • With a view to your future career, where do you want to be a year from now? Describe the results you have achieved. (New clients, improved relationship with supervisor, increased billings, etc.)

3. Be specific and detailed in describing your goals and the steps that will get you there. If your plan lacks concrete details, you are much less likely to follow through with it. Be sure to set timelines, specific dates and name specific courses or groups.

  • What are the specific initiatives you must take? (A client base you will target and how, methods for improving specific communication channels, request an office relocation, etc.)
  • What skill and knowledge gaps must you fill? (Practice area knowledge, practice management techniques, language skills, cultural competency skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, etc.)

4. Revisit your plan regularly and update it as you adjust and refine your goals. Take account of changing circumstances and resources as you move forward in your career.

Your CPD Plan is to be kept by you. You will not be required to provide it to the Society unless it is requested. Questions about your plan will be included in the Annual Lawyer Report. Your plan need not comply with a specific form or format.  You simply need to have the plan in your records and be able to produce it should you be asked.

If you would like help creating your CPD Plan, here are some helpful resources:

  1. Use the Sample CPD Plan Questionnaire template;
  2. Use the CPD Plan Questionnaire, Templates and Models;
  3. Use CPD Plan Template 2;
  4. Contact Society staff, who will be happy to help you through this process, by emailing cpd@nsbs.org or calling the NSBS CPD line at 902 422 1491 ext. 371. Someone will respond to your inquiry within five business days.