On July 21, 2011, the Supreme Court of New Jersey approved the following changes to the Regulations of the Board on Continuing Legal Education:
- BCLE Reg 103:1(a) - definition of "active lawyer"
- BCLE Reg 201:2 - requirements for newly admitted attorneys
- BCLE Reg 201:6- teaching CLE
- BCLE Reg 201:8 - allowing for 100% alternative coursework in certain circumstances via alternative verifiable learning formats
- BCLE Reg 202:1 - creating an additional exemption for attorneys attaining the age of 75
- BCLE Reg 401:4 - reporting requirements for newly admitted attorneys
Many of these changes will have a significant impact for New Jersey attorneys - particularly for newly admitted attorneys, as discussed below.
BCLE Reg 103:1(a): added language to the rule clarifying.
The rule now states (underlined changes): Any lawyer licensed in New Jersey who is active for any part of a year and not otherwise exempt from these continuing legal education requirements must comply with these regulations.
BCLE Reg 201:2: added language applying the newly admitted additional requirement that 15 of the 24 credits must be in five of the nine new admittee subject matters to the first two-year period.
The rule now states (underlined changes, bracketed omissions): By the end of [During] a newly admitted lawyer’s first two-year compliance period after admission to the Bar of New Jersey, the newly admitted lawyer must have satisfied fifteen of [his/her twenty-four] his or her required credit hours in any five of the following nine subject areas: New Jersey basic estate administration; New Jersey basic estate planning; New Jersey civil or criminal trial preparation; New Jersey family law practice; New Jersey real estate closing procedures; New Jersey trust and business accounting; New Jersey landlord/tenant practice; New Jersey municipal court practice; and New Jersey law office management.
This means that newly admitted attorneys who have a one-year period as their first compliance period (those in Group 1 in even-numbered years and Group 2 in odd-numbered years) - will not be required to fulfill the newly admitted 15 credit requirement immediately. Instead, these attorneys will be required to complete 12 credits, including two ethics (one half of the "regular" requirement). Then, in their second compliance period (their first two-year compliance period), they will complete the newly admitted requirement.
Attorney with birthday in February (Group 1) is barred in 2011. His or her first compliance period is January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013. He has a two-year period, so must complete 24 credits. Of the 24 credits, 15 must be in newly admitted attorney practice areas. Of the 24, four must be in ethics and professionalism. During the attorney's second compliance period, regular requirements are now in effect.
Attorney with birthday in October (Group 2) is barred in 2011. His or her first compliance period is January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. She has a one-year period, so must complete 12 credits. Of the 12 credits, none must be in newly admitted attorney practice areas, but two must be in ethics and professionalism. The attorney's next compliance period is January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014. She now has a two-year period, so must complete 24 credits. Of the 24 credits, 15 must be in newly admitted attorney practice areas. Of the 24, four must be in ethics and professionalism.
In effect, New Jersey has implemented a one-year "buffer" for newly admitted attorneys who have a one-year period as their first compliance period. This was created in order to make the effect of the requirement more equitable between attorneys in different groups. Under the previous version of the rules, attorneys with a one-year compliance period were required to complete 17 credits (15 newly admitted practice area plus two ethics), compared to those with a two-year period who only had to complete 12 (24 in two years).
BCLE Reg 401:4 clarifies this further in discussing the reporting requirement for newly admitted attorneys. The changes reflect this "buffer" period as described above.
The rule now states (all additional language): For all newly admitted lawyers whose first compliance report must be made in an even-numbered year, those in Compliance Group 1 will have a transitional reporting requirement and will be required to report on the Annual Attorney Registration Statement due in that first compliance reporting period only one-half of the mandatory CLE requirements. For all newly admitted lawyers whose first compliance report must be made in an odd-numbered year, those in Compliance Group 2 will have a transitional reporting requirement and will report one-half of the mandatory CLE requirements on the Annual Attorney Registration Statement in that first compliance reporting period. Continuing thereafter, compliance reports become due as provided in BCLE Reg. 401:2.
I have created a chart which I hope brings additional clarity to these changes. Please feel free to comment or send me feedback.
BCLE Reg 201:6 adds some additional information regarding calculating teaching credit.
The rule now states (underlined changes, bracketed omissions): A lawyer who teaches an approved course designed principally to maintain or advance the professional competence of lawyers and/or expand an appreciation and understanding of the ethical and professional responsibility of lawyers is entitled to twice the credit hours authorized for that portion of the course taught by the lawyer claiming teaching credit. Teaching credit for the same course offered more than once during a compliance [cycle] period shall be claimed only once during [any] each compliance period. Nevertheless, customary credit will be allowed for the teacher’s attendance at the same course for any second or subsequent course taught during that compliance period. Law school professors and instructors shall not be awarded CLE credit for teaching full [and] or part-time law students.
BCLE Reg 201:8 allows attorneys who do not reside or work in New Jersey or other MCLE jurisdiction, or those who obtain a medical certification, more flexibility to fulfilling the requirement by allowing these attorneys to take all of their credits through alternative verifiable learning formats.
The rule now states (underlined changes): Lawyers who do not reside or work on a regular and continuous basis in New Jersey or in another mandatory CLE jurisdiction for the entire compliance period or who are medically certified as unable to attend live courses: Courses taken through alternative verifiable learning formats, if approved for CLE course accreditation, may account for 100% of the credit hours required in a compliance period; provided, however, that this shall apply only during such time as (i) the lawyer does not reside or work on a regular and continuous basis for the entire compliance period in New Jersey or in another mandatory CLE jurisdiction or (ii) a licensed physician certifies to the Board that the lawyer is unable to attend live courses.
BCLE Reg 202:1(a) extends the exemption from the requirement to attorneys who are 75 or older.
The rule now states (underlined changes): only attorneys who have been admitted to practice law in any State or the District of Columbia for fifty years or more, those who have reached age seventy-five regardless of length of tenure at the Bar, those on full-time active duty in the military, VISTA or Peace Corps, and those retired completely from the practice of law are exempted from the mandatory CLE requirements.