Professional Development

All practising lawyers are required to complete and implement an annual professional development plan, and report they have done so in their Annual Lawyer Report.  

We also recommend that lawyers engage in at least 50 hours of self-learning/self-study annually, in addition to the mandatory CPD Requirement. 

Creating a CPD Plan

Looking for information on creating a CPD Plan?

CPD Requirements

The Society requires all practising lawyers to create an annual professional development plan and commit it to writing (see Regulation 8.3.6).  All practising lawyers are expected to complete a minimum of 12 hours of professional development in each reporting year (Regulation 8.3.4

Each year, we ask lawyers to indicate on their Annual Lawyer Report (ALR) whether they have prepared and written their CPD Plan and implemented their plan from the previous year. 

The deadline for creating your CPD Plan is June 1 each year. If you already have a plan that operates on a calendar year, you may continue to use that rather than creating a plan that runs from June 1 of a given year to May 31 of the next year. 

Developing a CPD Plan 

Use any type of professional development plan that works for your type of practice, as long as it is in writing and can be produced should the need arise. If you or your firm or other legal entity already have a structure for creating and implementing plans, you don’t need to change your methods.  

The Society will ask you to report each June if you have a plan, but your plan does not need to run from June 1 to May 31. Some organizations create professional development plans that operate over a calendar year. As long as you are able to report that you have a professional development plan in place at all times that you are practising, it need not coincide with the Society’s fee year. 

Although there are no strict requirements for what may be included in your CPD Plan, it’s a good idea to include the following elements: 

  • substantive legal education and skills development; 
  • risk and practice management; and 
  • professionalism and cultural competency 

The Society’s CPD Requirement is a flexible and convenient method to ensure lawyers meet both their professional duty of competence and the Society’s public interest mandate, by implementing a regulatory program to ensure the ongoing competence and professionalism of lawyers in Nova Scotia. As the Society regulates lawyers in the public interest, it is important to be accountable and demonstrate to the public that lawyers maintain and strive for high levels of professionalism and competence in the practice of law.  

Extensions for declaring your professional development plan 

To request a formal extension for declaring (on your ALR) you have implemented your plan from the previous year and/or you have created your plan for the upcoming year, please use the CPD Extension Request form or CPD Exemption Request form.

Prior to completing your request, please review the Policy regarding the Granting of Waivers (Extensions and Exemptions) to a Member’s Continuing Professional Development requirement. 

Please note the Society is no longer pro-rating hours. It is mandatory that lawyers in Nova Scotia create and declare a CPD Plan on their ALR and it is expected that each lawyer will complete a minimum of 12 hours yearly (see Regulation 8.3.4). 

Find CPD opportunities 

We provide ongoing notices and information about CPD resources but we do not accredit programs. Our events & news sections for upcoming conferences, seminars, webinars and other offerings.  

We also continue to offer the Online Land Registration Act  Training Program, which is mandatory for all lawyers who wish to use the Property Online system, and other occasional mandatory education as directed by Council.  

Continuing professional development is readily available to lawyers across Nova Scotia in a number of formats. Many programs are now online, so lawyers can learn in the convenience of their own homes and offices, on their own timetables.  

Increasingly, lawyers are organizing CPD study groups – thereby ensuring their CPD is relevant and available at no or little cost.  

Formal programming is offered through a wide range of CPD providers, including but not limited to the following:  

Finding affordable and accessible CPD 

There is wide latitude in terms of how your recommended CPD hours can be achieved, with emphasis on accessibility and affordability. The Society is not accrediting programs. Lawyers are free to choose education that is most relevant to their practice of law. 

In addition, the ‘formal’, in-person education courses and conferences that we traditionally associate with CPD, a wide range of learning-focused activities qualify toward your requirement: 

  • Online courses (including self-study courses) 
  • Webinars and podcasts 
  • Distance education courses 
  • Teaching and presenting 
  • Writing or editing a book, article or blog; 
  • Study group of two or more people 
  • Educational component of Bar and law association meetings 
  • Participating in a practice advisor / advisee or mentor / mentee relationship (to a maximum of 2 hours) 

Options for relevant and affordable CPD include: 

  • The excellent resources offered through the LIANSRisk and Practice Management Program. LIANS offers regular webinars and in-person CPD sessions exploring a wide range of Risk & Practice Management topics. 
  • The NSBS Annual Meeting – three hours of CPD is provided at no cost to attendees; also, keynote speeches are made available to view on the Society’s website. 
  • Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law offers the popular “Sessions @ Schulich” series. These are advertised in InForum and on the Society’s website, as well as on the Schulich site. 
  • Mentor a student or young lawyer. In addition to acting as a supervisor to an Articled Clerk, there are a number of formal mentorship programs for Nova Scotia lawyers, including: 
  • LIANS Mentorship Program 
  • The Dalhousie Association of Women in the Law (DAWL) - This mentorship program is aimed at connecting women and trans law students with women involved in all aspects of legal practice in the Halifax community. 
  • Legal Legacies & Bridges (LLB): African Canadian and Aboriginal Law Student Mentorship Program – The Society offers this mentorship program in conjunction with the Indigenous Black and Mi’kmaq Initiative at Dalhousie University (IB&M). 
  • The Internationally Trained Lawyers Observership Program: The Society runs this mentorship program in collaboration with Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services (ISI) in Halifax.  
  • Pride Mentorship Program: This program, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lawyers, is offered in collaboration with the CBA Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) section. Its purpose is to provide a community of support for students and new lawyers entering the profession. 
  • Create your own customized CPD programming at no cost by forming a study group. 

Form a CPD Study Group  

We aim to make relevant CPD accessible for all Nova Scotian lawyers at no or limited cost. The flexibility of the Society’s CPD Requirement makes this achievable, as lawyers can design and deliver customized CPD programming through study groups. 

What is a study group? 

A study group is a group of two or more lawyers studying together for a primarily educational purpose. It is an eligible CPD activity toward the Society’s CPD Requirement. 

The study group format provides endless scope for delivering creative CPD content. A few examples: 

  • Lawyers with a mutual practice area interest can review recent court decisions and discuss their implications. 
  • A colleague attends a conference and presents highlights to the practice group.  
  • A group of lawyers invites a LIANS representative to provide a group presentation and Q&A session on risk and practice management issues. 
  • Lawyers watch a video on advanced negotiation techniques, then practise through a simulated negotiation exercise. 

How do I organize a study group? 

  • Start by identifying one or more gaps in your skills and knowledge
  • Consider your market. Are you a rural practitioner? Consider those topics or areas of shared interest among local practitioners. 
  • If the knowledge or skill you seek to develop is specific (e.g., recent developments in trademark law), propose a study group session with lawyers who have similar interests or practices: practice group colleagues, other practice area specialists across the province, etc. If, however, the knowledge or skill can be shared by a wider group (e.g., risk and practice management issues, legal ethics), the ‘pool’ of potential lawyers is much wider. 
  • Identify your objectives, such as enhancing skills or knowledge in one or more specific areas. Then analyze potential CPD activities: Read and discuss case law? An expert presentation? Watch and discuss a pre-recorded conference presentation? Is this appropriate as a single session or as a series of meetings? 
  • Consider the logistics for your study group session. Will you meet at your office, an external venue or by webinar? Which dates and times work best for participants? 
  • If appropriate, assign roles and responsibilities: Is anyone presenting? For how long? Who will make arrangements for technology, catering, etc.? 
  • Schedule the session(s) well in advance and send reminders a week beforehand. 
  • Prepare a draft agenda for your CPD study group meeting and keep the session on track. 

CPD FAQs

What is the deadline for creating my CPD Plan?

Is the NSBS CPD Requirement mandatory?

What are the goals and objectives of the Society’s CPD Requirement?

What are the key elements of the NSBS CPD Requirement?

Why does the Society require that lawyers evaluate their CPD activities from the previous year?

What qualifies as a continuing professional development activity for the purposes of the NSBS CPD Requirement?

Do lawyers have to report their CPD hours?

Do lawyers have to get their CPD activities accredited by the Society?

Do legal education providers have to get their programs accredited by the Society?

Does compliance with a CPD program in another jurisdiction satisfy the Society’s CPD Requirement?

Does the CPD Program apply to in-house lawyers too? Part-time lawyers? Lawyers engaged in non-traditional practice?

What about articled clerks? Are they required to comply with the CPD rules?

May I include mentoring a student/lawyer in my CPD plan?

May I include CBA section meetings in my CPD Plan?

May I include reading in my CPD Plan?

May I include writing in my CPD Plan?

May I include presentations I give to my clients or to others in my CPD Plan?

May I include teaching in my CPD Plan?

May I include my firm’s in-house education programs in my CPD Plan?

Do lawyers file their CPD Plan with the Society?

What if I don’t create and implement a CPD Plan?

Will anybody ever look at a lawyer’s CPD Plan to ensure they have implemented their CPD Plan activities? 

How will success of this program be evaluated?

Why CPD Plans? Why not mandatory minimum hour requirement for CLE attendance like other law societies and professions?

Questions?

Contact us at CPD@nsbs.org or phone the CPD line at 902 422 1491 (ext. 371). We will get back to you within five business days.