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Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing a Roundtable Session

What is a roundtable session?
At a roundtable session, you will debate and discuss issues relating to your practice area with a small group of colleagues at the same level of experience as you - new, experienced or advanced.  It is recommended that a facilitator, who is internal or external to the group, leads the discussion.

The world of a sole or small firm lawyer or paralegal can be quite isolating and it can be a challenge to keep up on changes in the law.  Roundtable sessions give you the opportunity to have interactive peer to peer discussion, to share your experience and to learn from others.  This will also be an opportunity to network and to socialize with other licensees in your practice area who are at the same level of experience.
Why organize a roundtable session?
It is generally recognised that people can accomplish and learn more by sharing their skills and resources than by working alone.  When sharing ideas and interacting with others, your understanding of the issues is greater than if you were on your own.  Some other benefits of participating in a roundtable session include:
  • Hearing other perspectives on issues
  • Pooling together a wider range of experience and knowledge
  • Stimulating looking at the problem from many angles
  • Receiving feedback on your ideas and thoughts
  • Observing how other people work and think

Is a roundtable session an eligible educational activity for the purposes of fulfilling the CPD Substantive Hours requirement?
A roundtable session of two or more lawyers or paralegals that is organized for the purpose of discussing content that comes within the CPD definition is eligible for the Substantive CPD Hours.  Roundtable session facilitators may claim up to three hours for every-one hour session to reflect preparation time.
Can participation in a roundtable session be considered an eligible educational activity for the purposes of fulfilling the CPD Professionalism Hours requirement?
In order to be eligible for Professionalism Hours, the roundtable session must address topics related to professional responsibility, ethics, practice management, and/or equality, diversity and inclusion and be accredited in advance by the Law Society of Ontario. To seek accreditation, you will need to complete an Application for Accreditation of Alternate Eligible Educational Activities (PDF) . For more information, see the Law Society’s CPD Accreditation for Licensees.

Alternatively, you may consider using one or more of the Law Society’s Professionalism Case Studies in your roundtable session to obtain the Professionalism Hours credit.  The Professionalism Case Studies are based on actual situations in which a lawyer or paralegal was faced with a decision involving one or more ethical or professional responsibility issues.  The Law Society’s Professionalism Case Studies have been accredited for Professionalism Hours.  An application for accreditation is not required.  Each Professionalism Case Study discussed in a roundtable session is eligible for up to one hour of professionalism credit.  The total amount of Professionalism Hours claimed will depend on the duration of the roundtable session and the number of case studies discussed.  For more information visit the Law Society’s Professionalism Case Studies for Study Groups webpage.
Who should participate in the roundtable session?
Roundtable sessions should be organized with no more than six participants per facilitator at a table. Large groups of participants should be divided into subgroups of six. 

Your local law association can assist you in contacting colleagues in your practice area. Advertisements for your roundtable session can be posted electronically or at your local law library.
Who should facilitate the roundtable session?
You will need to choose a facilitator for each of your topics. The facilitator, internal or external to your roundtable group, takes the role of the session leader to keep the discussion on track and productive.  Facilitators are responsible for:
  • Introducing the topic
  • Creating an open forum for discussion
  • Leading and encouraging discussion
  • Asking good open-ended questions to stimulate thought
  • Making sure everyone has an opportunity to participate
  • Reinforcing and clarifying the content

What should be discussed at the roundtable session?
You can find discussion points for your roundtable session by:
  • Asking other licensees in your area of practice for topics
  • Reviewing the Law Society’s Professionalism Case Studies
  • Monitoring online blogs dedicated to your practice area
  • Reviewing legal newspapers, magazines and law journals
  • Look at CPD calendars for upcoming programs in your practice area and reviewing the topics listed in the program agendas
  • Checking law or paralegal association websites  
Ensure that you allow time for introduction of the topic, a discussion and a wrap-up of each issue.
Where and when should the roundtable session take place?
You should select a meeting place that is free from distractions.  Your roundtable session could take place in a boardroom, restaurant, courthouse or law library. Roundtable discussion works best if participants can look at each other across a table while they talk about the issues.  Consider scheduling your session over lunch, after work, or at a dinner meeting.
How long should the roundtable session be?
It is recommended that your roundtable session be one or two hours in length, depending on the number of topics to be discussed.  It is important to honour the ending time.
Follow-up?
Take a few minutes at the end of the roundtable session to review what has been discussed.  Exchange contact information and consider staying in touch with fellow participants.  Roundtable session participants can be a source of support and encouragement.  Some participants may wish to set up the next roundtable session at this time. 

Other resources are available on the Law Society’s website for those who wish to facilitate a roundtable session.