Continuing Education for Lawyers - Ontario

The Law Society of Ontario

Overview of the CPD Requirement

What is the CPD Requirement?

Lawyers and paralegals who have been practising law or providing legal services for more than 2 years must complete in each calendar year at least 12 CPD Hours in Eligible Educational Activities  consisting of a minimum of 3 Professionalism Hours on topics related to professional responsibility, ethics and/or practice management and up to 9 Substantive Hours per year. Only Professionalism Hours must be accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada. 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.

Who has to fulfill the CPD Requirement?

Lawyers and paralegals in the 100% fee-paying category are subject to the CPD requirement. In addition, lawyers and paralegals in other fee categories that are providing legal services that are either based on Ontario or Canadian Law (including on a pro bono basis), or as a life member, subject to the CPD requirement.  Licensees in fee categories other than the 100% category who are not practising Ontario or Canadian law are exempt from the CPD Requirement. However, lawyers and paralegals are subject to the CPD Requirement for each month that they are in a 100% fee-paying category. See By-Law 6.1 and Fee Categories for more information. Lawyers and paralegals who need guidance to determine their membership category should contact the Law Society's Client Service Centre at (416) 947-3315, or toll-free at 1-800-668-7380, ext. 3315. 

What is the purpose of the CPD Requirement?

Continuing professional development (CPD) is defined as the maintenance and enhancement of a lawyer's or paralegal's professional knowledge, skills, attitudes and professionalism throughout the individual's career. It is a positive tool that benefits lawyers and paralegals and is an essential component of the commitment they make to the public to practise law or provide legal services competently and ethically. The Law Society has an important role to play in supporting the efforts of lawyers and paralegals to maintain and enhance that competence. It also has a duty to ensure that all persons who practise law or provide legal services in Ontario meet standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct that are appropriate for the legal services they provide.

CPD Programs

The CPD Requirement recognizes a range of Eligible Educational Activities, including attendance at CPD programs delivered in a variety of formats. CPD programs are formal, instruction-based sessions and may be offered by organizations such as education providers, law associations, law firms, government associations and industry groups. As of May 30, 2013, lawyers and paralegals may claim the following types of participation in CPD programs toward the CPD Requirement:

  • Attendance in person, online or by telephone, at live CPD programs and courses that provide an opportunity to interact with colleagues and/or instructors. This must include the ability to ask questions, directly or indirectly, e.g., the ability to email a question to the content provider during the online presentation
  • Viewing or listening to recorded or archived CPD programs and courses with at least one colleague
  • Participation in an interactive, online course
  • Viewing or listening to archived or recorded CPD programs or courses without a colleague for a maximum of 6 hours per year

Alternate Educational Activities

In addition, a range of alternate educational activities are eligible for CPD Hours:

  • Participation as a registrant in a college, university or other designated educational institution program, including interactive distance education
  • Teaching to a maximum of 6 hours per year. Actual teaching time will be multiplied by a factor of 3 to reflect preparation time
  • Acting as a judge or coach in a mooting competition is an eligible teaching activity to a maximum of 6 hours per year
  • Writing and editing books or articles with or without a co-author to a maximum of 6 hours per year
  • Mentoring, being mentored, providing coach or advisor support, participating in a coach or advisor program, acting as an articling principal, or supervising an LPP work placement or paralegal field placement  
  • Participation in study groups of 2 or more colleagues
  • Educational components of bar and law association meetings

Eligible activities will not be limited to subject matter dealing primarily with the practice of Ontario or Canadian law. Subject matter related to the law of other provinces and countries and non-legal subjects will be eligible if relevant to the lawyer’s or paralegal's practice and development as a practitioner.