From the Executive

Sydney is home to an amazing new Frank Gehry designed building in Ultimo described as a ‘ scrunched paper bag of undulating brickwork and glass’. I mention this not only in case you are interesting architecture, but because the story of its construction is one of the great lessons in ‘learning by doing’ and may have lessons for legal practice. In a nutshell, the design was so unique and 50 times more complex than the usual large project  that it required a combination of both ‘old dogs and new tricks’ to get the thing built. Master bricklayers came out of retirement, traditional techniques would not work so new techniques and skills had to be invented. And, this was the bit that caught my eye, “Young engineers were teamed with experienced foremen. The engineers had a strong grasp on the 3D computing software (BIM) and had to translate the information to the foreman who would implement the element on site”. I could not help wondering where is best practice in continuing professional learning these days and is legal practice up there with the best or not?  Our Annual Conference “2020 Vision For the Future of Learning and Development for the Legal Profession” in Sydney on October 16-17 hopes to answer that question.  With legal practice  transforming before our eyes, this might be one of the most important conferences you could attend for your own professional development and the professional development of your lawyer ‘clients’. Do come along and do please send the conference brochure to colleagues who may not be CLEAA members. CLEAA will always focus on the needs of members but we would like the conference and other activities to involve as many people as possible. Involvement of the wider stakeholder community is vital to an innovative, viable and sustainable CPD and L&D sector.  To this end, a reminder about the new CLEAA membership structure where an organisation with two full fee paying members can join additional members for free.  Members receive a generous discount on conference registration so please encourage your colleagues to join. See you at the Conference if not before!  – Ronwyn North

Annual General Meeting – Advance Notice

The CLEAA AGM will be held during the conference on Friday 17 October 2014 at 12.30 at the NSW Bar Association  Basement, 174 Phillip, Sydney, NSW. A light lunch will be provided.

While all Executive positions are up for re-election, CLEAA is likely to be well served by a mix of continuity of membership and ‘new blood’. Look out for the nomination form with the AGM notice to be sent to members shortly. Also look out for the proxy voting forms if you are unable to attend the AGM in person.  Remember too, that CLEAA has a number of subcommittees  that are always looking for volunteers. Serving on a subcommittee is a good way to gain an understanding of CLEAA and the responsibilities of the Executive.


CLEAA Conference 2014 – Sydney

Plan to be at our 2014 CLEAA conference in Sydney on 16 and 17 October. The theme is, 2020: Our vision for the future of learning and development for the legal profession. It’s about being better at what we do and attending to our own professional development needs as well as those whom we serve in the legal profession.

Highlights to look forward to include:

  • Hon Justice Slattery – an insight into what classical sources can tell us about modern continuing legal education
  • Terri Mottershead – the changing role of L & D professionals in 21st century law firms
  • Getting in on strategic planning as an in-house L & D professional
  • Strategic planning for L & D providers – institutions and individuals
  • Anthony Mitchell – innovative approaches from outside the legal environment – what can we learn and use
  • How can we prepare ourselves for the CPD/L and D environment in 2020
  • John Hanley – Skills and behaviours we need to exhibit to be the best professionals we can be
  • Prof the Hon George Hampel QC and Judge Felicity Hampel SC – 2020 vision from the bench
  • Dr Hayley Bennett – learn about the role of unconscious processing of experience in intelligent decision making – what does in mean for CLE programs
  • Dr Sandra Peter – Blended learning and technology
  • Martine Barclay – Rediscovering your edge – more insights about our own performance and how to enhance it.

Meet a member

Introducing Stephanie Abbott

I’ve been a CLEAA member since 2008 – 6 years. Today I write this amid the skyscrapers and intense humidity of a late Hong Kong summer. I’ve now been here as Regional Director – Knowledge, Learning and Development with Mayer Brown JSM for the past three and a half years.

I’ve always been drawn to the creative, change-focussed aspects of Learning & Development: Understanding the needs and direction of the business, translating it into programme design and sequencing and aligning activities with those going on in other parts of the business is what I enjoy most about my role. I also love the part where the creative meets the pragmatic: understanding out what the organisation is ready to accept, digest and act upon now, what it will be ready for soon and scouting out the path to the most desirable future state. My role in Asia has taken this to a new level – dealing with a new context and the organisational drive to globalise and extend into emerging markets for legal services.

When I arrived in Hong Kong with my family it felt like a massive leap into the unknown for all of us. I was prepared for a huge culture shock. Interestingly, Hong Kong, with its unique history, is such a melting pot of East and West that the massive shock never came. The differences are far more subtle and nuanced. My husband, my two young sons and two elderly cats have also adapted remarkably well to this new place. We miss the pristine open spaces and familiar culture of Australia but there is so much to love here. My elder son’s favourite comfort food is “siu mai” – street stall dumplings – which he can eat by the dozen. My younger’s favourite expression is the hugely useful and quintessentially Cantonese “Aiyaaah!”: good for surprise, shock, sympathy, frustration and a huge array of other emotions besides.

The legal context is also both familiar and exotic. The Hong Kong Law Society occupies a central role in the profession and is the CPD regulator. Hong Kong lawyers cherish and defend their common law legal traditions. Passions have recently been running hot during public debates about the rule of law and judicial independence – hot buttons in any jurisdiction with a strong common law tradition. The law here is completely bilingual, officially, and many lawyers are trilingual – highly proficient in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. My speciality in plain language legal writing and drafting has undergone some necessary adaptation. For example, what is the most user friendly way or organising defined terms for documents in a script that does not use the alphabet as an organising principle? (There are other options, of course).

From an L&D perspective, Hong Kong lawyers, especially junior ones, are enthusiastic and receptive learners. As with any group of lawyers, there is a preference for hard, technical information over more slippery interpersonal skills (however sorely they are needed). Similarly, there is also great anxiety around practising new skills and applying new knowledge that brings with it the risk of failure. Almost as much effort needs to be put into helping lawyers develop their ability to reflect productively – establishing a healthy learning culture – as into the content itself.

There is a myth that it is difficult to get audiences in Asia to be interactive and to participate in discussion. Of course, its important to remember that “Asia” is no more homogenous than “Europe”. You would not expect a training group in Rome to behave the exact same way as one in Copenhagen. The same applies when delivering training in Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong or Hanoi. Mind, heart and eyes open – its the only way to travel! The key in Hong Kong and China is understanding the most critical social dynamics and adapting accordingly. Small tweaks can make huge differences. For example, often in HK, if you pause to open a plenary session up for questions or discussion from the floor, you can hear a pin drop. This can last right to the end of the session, and can happen whether you’re dealing with new trainees (graduates) or experienced partners. However, strong and trusting social bonds exist among these cohorts. Break into small groups for discussion or group problem solving, allow the group’s observations to be shared, you see the interaction quickly begin to flow and the energy increase. By leading with this approach its possible to flush out surprisingly open discussion and feedback as well as (shock!) enthusiastic role playing.

We will soon return to Australia to be closer to our extended family. Though we are ready to come home, we are also sad to leave. We saw our move here as an adventure and it has not disappointed. It has also proven to be a unique opportunity for us to learn so much on so many levels….and for me to practise what I preach!


Update on CPD in our jurisdictions

A regular feature in each newsletter. Contributions to

Western Australia

The review of the CPD regime in WA has, evidently, produced some interesting comments and whilst the original expectation was that the results might be available in August, that will now be later in the year. We will report then.


The Queensland Law Society has recently released an updated guide to CPD requirements and also a great brochure/prospectus that outlines that Society’s 2014 compulsory practice management course for those intending to practise as principals.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s CPD scheme, which is its first year of operation, requires each lawyer to have a CPD plan and record. It is very individually focussed and credit can be gained in many ways. Here is the content of a letter, published in a recent LawTalk, the fortnightly publication of the New Zealand Law Society.

“Re Continuing Professional Development

Well this has been a success. We have four associated practices in our building. Last year we analysed our learning needs and in line with the CPD requirements determined that this would be best achieved by forming a study group. Before we knew it the monthly meeting had become an integral and necessary part of our practice. We have between four and eight attendees each month; we send out an invitation for topics and then allocate space to discuss.   We have found it useful for both our newbie lawyers and senior practitioners. The CPD requirements to structure the study group has led us to be very organised; this has been to our benefit. Upon reflection our united feeling is that the requirement for us to do 10 hours a year has been a catalyst for a fantastic outcome for our practices. Congratulations on developing a system that is adding depth to the profession.”

State CLEAA events – mark the date

CPD for you – join in at meetings close to you throughout the year.  Treat yourself with a little personal CPD as well as catch up with CLEAA colleagues over a quick lunch.  Claim these dates in your diaries and we look forward to seeing you there.

Brisbane – Coffee Crawl with CLEAA -. Thursday 27 November 1-2pm, Hopgood Ganim, Level 8, Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane.

Melbourne and Sydney – As we went to print, unfortunately the dates for the next events in Sydney and Melbourne were not finalised. Members in those states will receive separate targeted invites as soon as the dates are settled.

Perth – We had a meeting in Perth in August for CLEA members and friends. The meeting was co-hosted by the Legal Practice Board (thank you Julie Bain) with about 20 people attending from the Board and its Complaints Committee,  local, national and global law practices and CPD providers.  It was a delight to see so many in attendance and to welcome some new members.  News from the meeting is that Board’s review of CPD rules has been completed with findings expected before the end of the year. Also the Board’s new Professional Development Committee has been given the remit to pursue issues relating to practice management, including the development of a mandatory practice management course similar to those of Queensland and New South Wales. There was lively discussion about the use of ‘virtual classrooms’ and the technologies, presentation skills and other resources required to support  new modes of delivery.   We hope to schedule another meeting in November.”

Think links

Recently we have had a series of articles on various topics scattered throughout the newsletter. This time we are trying the idea of bringing them together under the heading “Think Links”

  • If any of you have not seen it (I know John Handley is a fan) take a look at the Padagogy Wheel v3.0. Google it also for lots of related uses and blogs etc.
  • Perhaps more for the less experienced of us, but still worth a review for everyone, is a short read on keeping online learners engaged.
  • For those who do not see Lawyers Weekly, in July there was an item Does mandatory education have a future in Australia by CLEAA member Jonathan Seifman.
  • We reported in the last newsletter of the changes to the CPD regime in England and Wales with a link to a paper from the SRA. You can read more about these changes (including a link to a video interview with the SRA’s Director of Education and Training).
  • The Government has approved the introduction of apprenticeships as a pathway to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales. Details are being developed and we will report more in due course.

Canadian Bar Association releases major report on the future of the legal profession in that country


The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) which represents over 37,500 lawyers has released a major report on the legal profession in Canada, with proposals for a major rethink of how law is practised, taught and regulated. The report has resulted from a two-year research and study project.  It contains 22 recommendations, some of which would represent a fundamental change for the Canadian legal profession.

CBA President Fred Headon says “Client expectations are changing quickly and if lawyers don’t find better ways to meet those expectations, clients will go elsewhere to have their legal needs met. Statistics show that they are already – so, something needs to change. Clients expect, quite reasonably, that we do business like other professionals. They want cost-effective services delivered by properly trained professionals in a way that makes sense to them, that uses technology they are familiar with and which solve their problems, not just the legal aspect of their problems.”

The executive summary at the least is worth everyone reading, if not the whole report.

Of particular interest to L & D professionals include the following from the executive summary:

  • “In this dynamic future environment, it will be important for lawyers to obtain lifelong education and training. This will require more flexibility and choice in the way new lawyers are educated and trained, as well as innovative models and courses of study for pre-call training and continuous professional development.
  • “The transformation of legal services represents an outstanding opportunity for lawyers – whether they practise in large, medium, small or solo firms, as in-house counsel, in government, or in not-for-profit organisations – to provide valuable new services to an expanding client base. The liberalisation of the legal profession also provides a unique opportunity for legal educators and legal regulators to revisit their existing structures and methods and to re-invent themselves to support the lawyers and law organisations of the future.” and

As a “core finding” of the report it states that: “legal education and training should be regarded as life-long processes and educators should be empowered to innovate to provide more flexibility and choice in the way that new lawyers and educated and trained. New and current lawyers also need to embrace the techniques used in other professions for training and improvement.”

Recommendation #22 of the report – Continuing Professional Development states:

“Continuing professional development should be designed to meet lawyers’ needs through the stages of their careers and reflect identified and emerging client needs. Legal regulators should adopt consistent outcome-based national standards for CPD. Research should be undertaken to measure any link between quantity or input-based CPD and competence.”


Whatever happened to Margot Costanzo?


Our now regular column featuring someone who has been involved in CLEAA in the past and who has recollections of CLEAA and an update on what they are doing now. After completing articles and a couple of years as a commercial lawyer, Margot Costanzo began her legal training career as a course writer with the Leo Cussen Institute at the same time as the redoubtable Charlotte Denison who remained a great friend. After 4.5 years she left Leo and became an independent training consultant, with her first major client Minter Ellison. In the ensuing 15 years she built an impressive client list including the magic circle firms in London. She published two textbooks on legal writing and problem solving in 1995 which are still in use today. In 2000 Margot decided to take a break from the legal training scene and in particular the demands of travel. She accepted a number of shorter contracts to improve her business skills. This time saw her as a marketing director for a company selling online psychometric assessment and the procurement manager for a private schools group.  In the International Year of the Volunteer Margot became a volunteer radio presenter at the Melbourne classical music station 3MBS (103.5FM).  In 2007 she became the legislation trainer for Consumer Affairs Victoria, a state agency responsible for administering 36 Acts of Parliament. With other colleagues she is responsible for ensuring that the call centre and the disputes settlement staff have consumer law at their fingertips. Margot continues her role as a volunteer radio presenter, largely of opera programs. She produces and presents the opera highlights program Vocal Chords on 103.5 FM broadcast every Saturday at 1pm. You can catch her also on digital and at on demand. She has produced and presented more than 400 programs live for Vocal Chords, 60 pre-recorded programs called Stories and Songs from Opera for the Radio for the Visually Handicapped.  She was the foundation producer of the prize winning program Countdown to the Ring and plans to produce more programs on opera. Margot has a daughter studying literature at the University of Melbourne, a son who is a lawyer with King Wood Mallesons, and a stepdaughter who is hospital pharmacist.  She is married to Chris Arnold, CEO of the Skin and Cancer Foundation Inc, in Victoria.


News from ACLEA

ACLEA, the Association for Continuing Legal Education, is our “big sibling” (I could not decide whether to use sister or brother -ed) and while boasting an international membership, its members come primarily for the USA with a significant presence from Canada.

Una Doyle, former CLEAA president and long-time executive member, now Head of Professional Development, Membership and Communications at the NSW Law Society, was elected Secretary at the ACLEA AGM in Boston at the beginning of August. Una is not the first Australian member of the ACLEA Executive committee (that honour falls to Helene Breene) but she is the first office holder, having been Treasurer for the last year and now Secretary.

Talking of Helene, she was appointed co-chair of ACLEA’s International Special Interest Group, joining Raymond Lee of the CLE Society of British Columbia. She replaces Dick Edwards who in turn replaced Angela Kurtz. Other CLEAA members to have been co-chairs of the SIG (or its predecessor committee) include Una Doyle and Elizabeth Loftus.

Congratulations to Una and to Helene.

The AGM that saw our members appointed to roles was part of the 50th Annual meeting(conference). A session in the conference was entitled Building Better Lawyers: the Twin Pillars of Lawyer Wellness and Law Practice Management. The presentation team was all from down under with Ann-Maree David and Helene Breene presenting on the first part of the topic and Una Doyle and Dick Edwards on the latter. Its fair enough to say that there is growing interest in North America in these two topics Australia and New Zealand (and particularly Australia) are ahead of that continent in the area of lawyer wellness with its various programmes covering law school, pre-admission and post admission.

Contributions to the newsletter

Please repeat the usual insert Una but please change the date to 5 November

CLEAA Executive

Please repeat the usual insert Una but please change the contact email address for Geraldine to Thanks

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