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Continuing Legal Education: Don’t Forget It!

by on February 24, 2010

I know from firsthand experience that once attorneys finish law school and begin legal practice, a great number of them invariably neglect their obligations to enroll in continuing legal education (CLE) courses.  In Hong Kong, the scheme is referred to as Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  The Law Society of Hong Kong mandates that “A solicitor and a trainee solicitor must accumulate 15 CPD accreditation points in each CPD practice year.” All attorneys practicing in jurisdictions with CLE/CPD rules know that their jurisdiction has such requirements, yet they often wait until the last minute and try to cram in the courses required to meet the CLE/CPD mandate.

This is problematic for two reasons.  First, the purpose of these rules is not to simply make solicitors and trainees haphazardly fulfill a draconian set of requirements and keep them in school forever.  Rather, these schemes are meant to encourage legal professionals to continue to improve their practice by keeping up with new developments in law, finance and policy so that they can better serve their clients and the public.

Secondly, failing to keep up with CPD course offerings negates the intent of the rules, since attorneys may end up having to take classes that are of no benefit to them or their clients.  While I certainly don’t discourage anyone from brushing up on developments outside of their particular field, I can say from personal experience that, as someone with a background in primarily entertainment and media law, it was helpful to no one when I had to sit through a 3 hour course on European tax law and a 2 hour seminar on new laws revising California community property procedures.  Neither I nor my company got any benefit from that exercise and I missed some interesting courses on intellectual property protection in china that would have come in handy now that I do in fact live in China!

So, to help you stay informed, below are links to helpful resources for learning about your obligations under the CPD scheme and a listing of upcoming courses offered by the Hong Kong University Faculty of Law.

http://www.hklawsoc.org.hk/pub_e/cpdcourse/default.asp

http://hkuems1.hku.hk/hkuems/ec_ShowDepartmentalEvent.aspx?EOID=123&guest=Y

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