Creating a CPD Plan

CPD Planning Templates

General Information

What CPD may be included in my professional development plan?
Although the Society will not be tracking individual programs or hours, the basic principles and objectives of the NSBS CPD Requirement remain the same. Lawyers are expected to determine what education they need in any given year in a comprehensive and purposeful way.

The general test should be this: Is the activity primarily for an educational purpose and is it relevant to your practice?

The Society is not dictating what you can put in your plan but every lawyer is subject to audit and therefore, you need to keep track of your plans and your implementation of those plans for a five-year period. You may be asked to provide your plan and verify that you have completed your education. If you make a plan and then change your mind during the year and take something different, that’s okay. Just amend your plan and record what you’ve done for verification purposes. The purpose of the plan is to assist you in thinking about what education you need in any given year. It is not simply to fulfil an “hours” requirement. The Society wants to work with lawyers and ensure they are able to make plans and to find the resources they need.

In making your plan you may want to reference Rule 3 in the Code of Professional Conduct, which sets out the definition of competence for all practising lawyers. You should consider more than just the substantive areas of law in which you practise.

For that reason, we recommend you consider the following competencies and methods for attaining those competencies when creating your plan:








Set goals, implement, evaluate and reflect

Goal setting with measurable outcomes can assist in this process. It is important in developing your CPD Plan to plan, implement, evaluate and reflect.

The Society strongly recommends that you ask yourself questions about what your career goals are, where you want to be and what you need in terms of skills, practice management and professionalism as part of your plan.

Creating an Annual CPD Plan

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 [email protected] or calling the NSBS CPD line at 902 422 1491 ext. 371. Someone will respond to your inquiry within five business days.

Assessing your CPD Plan

In reviewing the previous year’s CPD Plan and activities, the following questions can assist lawyers in their evaluation:

  •  What activities did I undertake pursuant to last year’s CPD Plan?
  •  Why did I select this activity and how will it help my practice?
  •  How did each CPD activity improve my competence as a lawyer?
  •  Did I meet my goals and objectives?
  •  Is further learning or professional development required in any of the areas identified?
  •  What will be carried forward to my future CPD Plan?

Lawyers should regularly assess the implementation of their CPD goals throughout the year. Quarterly reviews are a good start. Lawyers should ask:

  •  How am I doing with implementing the activities identified in my CPD Plan?
  •  Were the activities selected beneficial?
  •  Did the activities selected have the intended effect, tangible or intangible?
  •  Did the activities selected have unintended consequences, positive or negative?
  •  Am I meeting my CPD goals as set out in my CPD Plan?
  •  How are my CPD activities enhancing my competence and the quality of legal services that I deliver to my clients?

Goal setting with measurable outcomes can assist in the above process. It is important, in the development of the CPD plan to plan, implement, evaluate and reflect.

Through its mandatory CPD Requirement, the Society encourages all Nova Scotia lawyers to develop a “reflective practice” – a more engaged method of self-assessment and reflection in assessing competence.

In completing their annual CPD Plans and following through on them, lawyers are expected to reflect on their skills, knowledge and practice; to assess what is done well, deficiencies, areas for improvement and areas of new law or learning to acquire; and to conduct self-reflection on their values and aspirations. By completing these self-assessments when developing a CPD Plan, lawyers should recognize areas for growth that can be built into their lifelong legal learning. Lawyers should ask themselves where they need improvement; if any ethical issues have arisen that should be explored; and what opportunities exist to access education to meet their CPD needs.

In order to meet the requirements of a CPD Plan, lawyers must conduct a needs assessment in order to build their learning objectives and priorities for the year. Taking a reflective practice approach to CPD planning will ensure that the program supports and encourages all lawyers, even those with significant seniority and high knowledge and skill levels, to improve their competence in a way that best addresses their own personal practice needs.

To meet the goal of enhancing lawyer competence in the delivery of legal services, it is necessary for lawyers to plan their CPD activities in accordance with the Rules, implement those activities and then evaluate whether the activities undertaken in the past year were effective in improving and enhancing competence in the delivery of legal services.

Questions about your CPD Plan?

Please contact the Society by email at [email protected] or call the NSBS CPD line: 902 422 1491 ext. 371. Someone will respond to your inquiry within five business days.