Costs Lawyers would recently have been checking they had collected sufficient Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for the previous practising year (currently 12 hours).
The Costs Lawyer Standard Board (CLSB) website has very useful section setting out the CPD requirements and what activities earn CPD points. Part of this process includes setting training objectives at the beginning of the practising year.
The website also includes a report titled “Lessons from the audit of 2021 CPD records”. This included the observation:
“Several Costs Lawyers audited listed as their only objective in the legal and technical competence category ‘keeping up to date’. They were asked to set more meaningful and specific objectives in future, in light of reflection on their professional development needs.”
Keeping up to date with the latest developments in costs law (and associated civil litigation issues) should naturally be second nature. Without any consideration for CPD points, for me this includes:
- Checking the free Legal Futures website each morning– at least an average of 5 minutes reading time per day, say 20 hours per year
- Subscribing to the Association of Costs Lawyers e-bulletin – around 3 per month with an average reading time of 15 minutes, say 10 hours per year
- Subscribing to the free Kerry Underwood’s blog – at least 20 hours reading time per year
- Subscribing to the free Gordan Excall’s Civil Litigation Brief blog – at least 1-2 case summaries per day with an average reading time of 10 minutes each, say 60 hours per year (more if the full case is then read)
- Reading the White Book’s Civil Procedure News newsletter – 10 per year, say 2 hours reading time per year
- Subscribing to Kerry Underwood’s Kerry on Costs and so Much More newsletter – over 50 newsletters in 2022 and promising around 100 in 2023, say 50-100 hours per year plus included Zoominars
Nevertheless, I find it slightly odd that the CLSB does not consider ‘keeping up to date’ with legal development within costs law as being sufficiently focused.
I had always understood the whole purpose of CPD requirements was to ensure that lawyers kept up to date with developments in their chosen area. It was to avoid the situation of the solicitor who qualified in 1974 believing they never had to learn any more law.
I could sort of understand it if the view was taken that simply keeping up to date with the law in the existing areas where one practised was not sufficient as this should be done in any event. The term Continuing Professional Development implies positive progression as opposed to simply trying to stand still. There may be certain areas of law (conveyancing?) where there are only relatively limited legal developments in any given year and a lawyer may therefore be expected to obtain their CPD points in a way that does develop them in different ways (eg undertaking courses in client care or learning how to use new legal IT systems).
However, costs law has been such a frighteningly fast moving area of law for so many years, and with further significant change just around the corner, that ‘keeping up to date’ is a serious challenge in itself and certainly a sufficiently focused one. As it is, I suspect many Costs Lawyers obtain a large proportion of their CPD points from attending general costs updating conferences (such as those run by the Association of Costs Lawyers, White Paper Conferences, Costs Law Reports, etc). So far as I am aware, it has never been suggested that attendance at these conferences is not a legitimate way to earn CPD points as these conferences are designed to provide general updates on costs law as opposed to having a more detailed focus.