Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (CPD)
Each year, all solicitors who hold current Practising Certificates in NSW are required to complete Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), also known as continuing professional development (CPD), unless they qualify for an exemption. This is condition 1 of a Practising Certificate.
Required MCLE (CPD) units
The MCLE (CPD) year runs from 1 April to 31 March the following year. Generally you are required to complete 10 MCLE (CPD) units each year.
If you commence or recommence practice between:
- 1 January and 31 March, no MCLE (CPD) units are required.
- 1 July and 31 December, five MCLE (CPD) units need to be completed.
Practitioners must include at least one (1) MCLE/CPD unit every year in each of the following fields:
- Ethics and Professional Responsibility
- Practice Management and Business skills
- Professional Skills
As per clause 176 of the Legal Profession Regulation 2005, every three years at least one of your CPD units must cover:
- equal employment opportunity
- discrimination and harassment
- occupational health and safety law
- employment law.
Compliance with this clause is administered in accordance with the MCLE scheme (as detailed in Rule 57 (formerly Rule 42) of the Solicitors’ Rules).
NOTE - Units undertaken to comply with Regulation 176 may be claimed towards the mandatory fields of Ethics and Professional Responsibility OR Practice Management and Business Skills.
Compliance and audit
To help you comply, the Law Society of New South Wales has prepared several forms.
Record of MCLE Activities - list your MCLE activities and the associated points for the year on this form to prove your compliance.
Request for Extension of Time - complete and return this form if you have not met your MCLE (CPD) requirements for the year but intend to do so within 90 days.
Request for Exemption - complete and return this form if you have practised for more than 40 years, you have been absent from practise, or your personal circumstances have made it difficult for you to meet your MCLE (CPD) requirements for the year.
MCLE Audit - The Law Society verifies compliance with the MCLE (CPD) scheme by a random audit of solicitors each year.
Obtaining your MCLE (CPD) units
The MCLE (CPD) scheme is based on self-assessment of educational activity. If you assess that it is relevant to your immediate or long-term needs in relation to your professional development and practise of the law, then you can claim the activity for MCLE (CPD)units.
There are a variety of ways to meet your MCLE (CPD) obligations. You can partake in any of the following activities that relate to the practise of law:
- In-house seminars/discussion group – 1 MCLE (CPD) unit per hour.
- Lecturing/teaching law – satisfies all MCLE (CPD) requirements for each year position is held (but mandatory fields and Rule 176 need to be complied with).
- Online seminars/ web based programs – 1 MCLE (CPD) unit per hour.
- Post-graduate, tertiary course organised by higher education institutions - e.g. LLM or other studies – complies with MCLE (CPD) for each year of study held (but mandatory fields and Rule 176 need to be complied with).
- Presentation of papers at conferences, conventions or seminars – 1 MCLE (CPD) unit per hour with a maximum of 5 MCLE (CPD) units for any one course.
- Preparation of written or oral material forming part of instruction within a course of continuing legal education – 1 MCLE (CPD) unit per hour maximum of 5 MCLE (CPD) units for any one course.
- Writing publications – 1 MCLE (CPD) unit for every 1000 words or more of a published legal article or work - maximum of 5 MCLE (CPD) units.
- Private study of Video/Audio/DVD – 1 MCLE (CPD) unit per hour to maximum of 5 MCLE (CPD) units.
Information about Mandatory Continuing Legal Education can be found in the MCLE/CPD - Comprehensive Guide.