Fiona Halsey, Director, Halseys
The Law Society of Western Australia provides high quality Continuing Professional Development. For me, Law Society CPD is the gold standard in CPD in Western Australia.
1. The ability to hear from the leaders of the profession
Judges, registrars, silks, senior commercial and litigation practitioners, and academics all present or chair seminars and workshops for The Law Society. The Law Society often engages practitioners who have worked in an important case to present a seminar. An excellent example of this was the recent seminar on Defamation Law.
The presenters for this seminar were counsel from the two highest profile defamation cases of the year Rebel Wilson v Bauer Media, and Rayney. The speakers were all counsel who actually appeared in those cases, being eminent Victorian silk Dr Matthew Collins QC, Martin Bennett (the session chair), Rachael Young and Jason MacLaurin.
2. Inspiration to improve
Law can be a tough profession, and it is great to take time to effectively recharge yourself. Holidays are important, but so is listening to skilful practitioners who encourage you to improve.
3. Actual improvement
High quality CPD helps all of us (and especially less experienced practitioners) to develop skills and knowledge to excel in our work.
4. Intellectual interest
Many of us studied law because we were intellectually interested in law. It is possible, especially in a commercial practice, to feel that your work has become largely administrative, and a matter of drafting never-ending contracts. Attending high-quality CPD can help reignite your enjoyment of the practice of law.
5. Cost effective
Law Society CPD is very cost effective, especially if you take advantage of the new CPD Freedom. For a few hundred dollars, you have access to an enormous range of interesting and timely information.
6. Practical and relevant
Law Society CPD has significant advantages over eastern state providers because the programs are developed by local lawyers. This means that the issues relevant and specific to Western Australia are covered in important detail. So much of the work we do is state specific. Many academic texts are eastern state centric. There are areas of the law where there is little written commentary and Law Society CPD provides the only accessible commentary.
The Law Society’s CPD programme is developed by experienced lawyers who put forward relevant topics, know who practices in that area and are able to select the right expert to present a seminar or workshop on their behalf. Because the Law Society is more interested in the dissemination of information rather than profitability, it covers even topics which may only affect a small proportion of total practitioners.
7. Convenient access when you need CPD points
The online availability of pre-recorded seminars is helpful, especially when you realise (inevitably at the end of the year) that you are short of CPD points.
8. Networking and friendship
The Law Society provides an important connection and network for lawyers, especially for solicitors in small firms. It can be easy when working long hours to become isolated from the rest of the profession. Attending face-to-face CPD at the Law Society can make you feel connected to the profession.
9. Keeping your skills and knowledge up to date
One danger of law, which we all learnt in law school, is the nature of the three great knowns/unknowns (the known knowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns). In law, it is the unknown unknowns which will generally bring you down. Attending high-quality seminars and workshops helps to ensure you are aware of important developments in your subject area.
10. Diversity of topics
There is an enormous diversity of topics. The Law Society provides CPD which it believes to be important, as opposed to just being profitable. The committees consider carefully what information must be disseminated to the wider profession, not just which workshops and seminars will be more profitable.
11. Knowing barristers
In a small firm, being able to access skilful barristers is crucial for success. Law Society CPD allows lawyers in small firms to see which barristers practice in particular areas, and to gauge whether it is likely that a barrister will be a good fit for your firm.