CPD across the Commonwealth – a comparative view

Andrew Bershadski                  As compulsory CPD comes into force for New Zealand practitioners, in this new series Law News speaks to lawyers across the Commonwealth about their experience with continuing legal education.

ENGLAND

“Given the huge variety of ways of accumulating the required CPD hours and the availability of events in London, I find it extremely easy to accumulate the required amount. I can see, though, that this may be a little more difficult for those practising outside London (although the Internet offers sufficient, if perhaps slightly less engaging, ways of staying within the requirements!),” says London-based barrister Andrew Bershadski.

Andrew Bershadski practises out of 2 Temple Gardens (2TG) in London, a set of chambers which was established over 60 years ago, and is now home to over 50 barristers. He has been practising as a barrister for just over a year, since completing his pupillage in October 2012.

Mr Bershadski practises in the civil area, with his key areas of specialty being employment, personal injury, property damage, insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence and commercial law. One of his more interesting experiences to date has been researching the heads of recoverable losses under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 in a case arising from the London riots of August 2011.

Before joining 2TG, Andrew worked as an assistant to the Editor of Criminal Law Week and leading criminal law title Archbold: Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice. In 2010, he undertook a 6-week internship at the Texas Defender Service, a capital defence charity based in Austin, Texas. He is also a native Russian speaker.

The primary way in which Mr Bershadski and his fellow barristers in chambers make use of CPD is to ensure that they are up-to-date with the particular areas of law in which they practice. Being barristers (and thus self-employed), there is no real correlation between CPD and performance reviews, nor does it really come into play in terms of career development or planning, except (as mentioned), to the extent it furthers experience in a chosen area of practise.

According to Mr Bershadski, as in New Zealand, there are many ways lawyers can obtain CPD “hours” or credits, including attending and giving seminars, listening to podcasts or webinars, and attending training events. The Bar in London has so much happening that he does not find it difficult to pick up the required CPD hours, because there are constantly relevant events going on.

Many of the required credits can also be self-generated, which is made easier by virtue of belonging to a thriving, busy set of chambers – for example, the barristers at 2 Temple Gardens can pick up a huge number of CPD hours by attending and participating in events that they organise themselves. At times, Mr Bershadski and his colleagues may give up to two seminars a week, each of which is an accredited CPD hour. CPD does not always have to be so onerous, however - a more relaxing way to earn the necessary points recently trialled by Mr Bershadski was a training weekend in Marrakech covering commercial, company, insurance law and a bit of swimming!

In terms of the types of CPD activities which are the most beneficial in enhancing his practice of the law, Mr Bershadski finds both giving seminars and attending them to be very instructive. A forthcoming event CPD in which he is participating is a residential advocacy weekend organised by the Inner Temple, which he anticipates will be an intensive fast-forwarding of his skills.

As a relatively new practitioner, Mr Bershadski is required to undertake 45 hours of CPD during the first three years of practice, at least nine of which must be through “Advocacy” events, and three of which must be through “Ethics” events. Given the abundance of CPD events and opportunities available, he would not be surprised if, without even thinking about it, he has already almost met his entire three-year requirement. Once the first three years of practising have been completed the requirements drop to 12 hours per year.

At 2 Temple Gardens, at least, there is not really anything in the way of sophisticated online planning tools to assist in organising or recording CPD – rather the members of chambers are fortunate to have an assistant who is extremely organised and keeps track of their hours, and, in particular, chases them up as each year draws to a close to ensure they do not fall short!

Contact Us
Phone 09 303 5270
Fax 09 309 3726
Email reception@adls.org.nz