Continuous Professional Development (â€śCPDâ€?) is jargon for an obvious fact; we need to know what is going on around us, professionally speaking.
Until recently, for the members of the Law Library, CPD consisted of drinking coffee in the barristersâ€™ dining room in the Four Courts. Members of the public and/or solicitors were not, and are not permitted access to it.
There are now too many barristers for that â€śsystemâ€? to work correctly and so the Bar, like solicitors, must take more formal steps to keep everybody, at least notionally, abreast of developments.
Barristers and solicitors must show, to their respective regulators, that they have attended a minimum number of hours at lectures and/or seminars during the year.
In the real world, the best form of CPD is to do. Do the work and you know more than any lecture can ever convey.
Formal CPD suffers another drawback; it is not politically correct to present a lecture entitled â€śWhatâ€™s wrong with Irish Judicial Review?â€? and yet there is great need for such a presentation.
CPD suffers from the same dilemma that confronts the Minister for Law Reform. Before you can reform the law, you need to know what is wrong with it. Officially, there is never anything wrong with the law. Therefore, the Minister for Law Reform has no work to do; something so true, the non-existent work has been given to the Law Reform Commission.
CPD, in short, should be cutting edge. But it never is.
We could benefit from a seminar on the legal status of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. But we wonâ€™t get one, because Mr. Sarkozy would not agree, if he were asked, that there is any legal status to the Charter. We know this because Ireland was recently informed that the Charter would be conferred with legal significance if the Lisbon Treaty was adopted. It was not; therefore it does not.