I have been getting many questions and comments about my recent posts on the New Jersey MCLE requirement. I want to address one area in particular where I believe most of the confusion lies – reciprocity.
I received this comment/question in an email from a professional development director at a New Jersey firm:
Here is part of the problem: as you can see with the language below, "New Jersey
attorneys who are satisfying the CLE requirement of another state..." If the attorney is not admitted in another state and therefore has no other CLE requirement in another state,
he/she cannot get credit for the CLE in another state and by reciprocity have it accepted
for credit in NJ. The reciprocity would only seem to apply to attorneys who are admitted
in other states and who can get CLE credit in those states.
This statement of reciprocity rule is incorrect, but I think that this is how many attorneys and CLE administrators believe the rule operates.
Actually, the confusion has been generated as there are two time periods in effect which have differing reciprocity rules.
- The “look-back” period – January 1, 2009-December 31, 2009
- Effective date of rules – January 1. 2010-ongoing
For the “look-back” period, attorneys can claim credit for programs taken as of January 1, 2009 if they were taking those credits to meet the requirements of another jurisdiction. This is from the notice that was issued on August 13, 2009. This notice specifically states that “courses that are taken in satisfaction of another State’s continuing legal education program” may be claimed. This ONLY affects courses taken from January 1, 2009-December 31, 2009.
The regulations, effective January 1, 2010, state that: “ALL ACTIVE LAWYERS will receive 1:1 credit for courses approved as satisfying the continuing legal educations requirements of any other jurisdiction.” (201:4, emphasis added). This means that if the COURSE is approved by another MCLE jurisdiction, ANY lawyer can claim credit for it. There is NO requirement (unlike look-back notice) that attorneys be taking the course in satisfaction of another state’s MCLE requirement. This affects courses taken after January 1, 2010.
If you look at the FAQ on reciprocity, you’ll note they state that BOTH types of attorneys (those licensed in another state and those only licensed in New Jersey) can claim credit under reciprocity. Note the OR and statement after the OR, below (emphasis added).
What is reciprocity?
New Jersey attorneys who are satisfying the CLE requirement of another state or who take courses approved in another state will receive 1:1 credit for courses approved in that jurisdiction through reciprocity. However, attorneys should be aware that there are differences in requirements from state to state. Those attorneys must ensure that they are also meeting the requirements of New Jersey’s program. For example, New Jersey requires that four credits be taken in courses related to ethics and/or professionalism. In addition, alternate verifiable learning format courses are limited to only 12 credits in any compliance period. BCLE Reg. 201:4
Hope this helps clear up some of the confusion! Happy CLEing New Jersey attorneys!