Gaining CPD credits through mentoring

by Linda K. Robertson

Are you looking for ways to complete the required 12 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits? If so, mentoring is an excellent way to gain credits and give back to the profession at the same time. It is especially helpful for senior or semi-retired lawyers who may feel that many of the professional development courses are not as useful to them.

The mentor relationship is especially important for junior lawyers practising on their own or in small firms, and lawyers living in smaller communities. They may not have access to experienced lawyers to help them learn new areas of law or to provide guidance on practice management or ethical issues.

Mentoring can be either face-to-face or over the phone, so lawyers practising in different locations can easily work together. This is both a practical and inexpensive way to gain CPD credits without needing to travel to another community to take a course or organize a study group.

The criteria to qualify as a mentor are similar to that of a principal for an articled student. The mentor must be a lawyer in good standing who has practised law, either full or part-time, for seven of the last 10 years.

Mentors do not need to be senior in years of call to the mentee. Peer mentoring can quality for credits, provided the mentor meets the eligibility criteria set out by the Law Society and has sufficient expertise in the subject under discussion. Lawyers at any stage of their careers who are working in unfamiliar or new areas of law can benefit from working with mentors with expertise in that legal area. 

Both the mentor and the mentee can claim six hours of CPD credits while working together. Mentors can claim a full 12 hours if separately mentoring more than one mentee. Sessions must be a minimum of 30 minutes to encourage more in-depth discussion as opposed to simply answering questions on a file. Lawyers must also commit to completing at least six hours of mentoring with the same mentee. 

Registering for CPD credits is easy. The parties file a simple Mentoring Plan on the Law Society website to ensure that the topics fall within the approved CPD guidelines, and the dates and times of the mentoring sessions are recorded. (See Licensing & Membership/Continuing Professional Development on the Law Society website for the mentoring guidelines and FAQs.)

Mentoring for CPD credits cannot include subjects such as business development, work-life balance or advice on specific client files. There is also a restriction on claiming CPD credits for mentoring an articled student within your own firm.

Lawyers interested in finding a mentor can check out the Mentoring Registry on the CBA website. However, lawyers can also simply contact a colleague who may be willing to act as a mentor or peer mentor to help them learn new areas of law or practice management. 

Questions about mentoring and CPD credits can be directed to Lisa Nevalainen, Member Services Representative, at

Linda K. Robertson is a member of the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee. She is a Lawyer Coach and Practice Consultant, who helps law firms design mentoring programs.