Last week, Kathy Todd, MCLE Manager at the Washington State Bar Association and MCLE Board, announced first drafts of revised rules and regulations for MCLE (APR 11 and Appendix of APR 11). Feedback and comments on drafts is invited for response by the end of day on Friday, July 20, 2012.
According to Kathy's announcement, there are a few substantive changes to the rules. Highlights of these changes include:
- A new category of credits was created called “development” credits. Up to six credits per reporting period can be earned for topics including work/life balance, stress reduction, career development, leadership training, professionalism, how to increase profits, planning for giving post-retirement pro bono service, communication skill development, and CLE presentation skill development.
- Pro Bono training credit and service credit periods were changed from an annual basis to a reporting period basis. This means that all the training and service credits can be earned at any time during the reporting period.
- Sponsors will be required to have an attendance verification system for all audio-visual courses that are accredited after the rules and regulations become effective. Members would still report the audio-visual programs taken, but attendance could be verified for audit purposes. Many states already require this.
Changes to the appendix include:
- The definition of ethics was clarified to make it easier for a CLE course – or session within a course – to more effectively focus on the critical skills related to ethics and prevention of disciplinary action. Ethics can only be accredited if it is covered in a course or session devoted to ethics with a specific start and end time.
- When a Form 1 is submitted for ethics credits, an explanation must be included regarding how the course or session meets the requirements for ethics accreditation according to Regulation 101(g).
- A course must be at least 60 minutes long to be accredited. Twelve other states require this minimum.
- A lawyer must attend at least 30 minutes of a program in order to earn any credit for the course.
- Credit can be earned for topics that were not previously accreditable under the new “development” credits in Regulation 103(d).
- CLE presenters and panelists will be able to get credit for teaching a course more than once if six or more months have elapsed since credit was claimed, the topic is related to a substantive area of law, and the written materials have been updated.
- A lawyer must present, or participate in a panel, for at least 30 minutes in order to earn preparation credit. Up to five credits can be earned for each 30 minutes of presenting or participating up to a maximum of 10 credits.
- Preparation time credits and writing credits are self-study credits.
- A lawyer may earn pro bono training and service credits at any time during a reporting period. The number of training credits required is proportional to the number of service credits that the lawyer wants to claim.
- Sponsors of audio-visual programs will have new requirements regarding attendance tracking for audio-visual programs that they want to be accredited after these new rules and regulations go into effect.
- All audio-visual programs will expire after five years, even skills-based courses.
- Sponsors -- The retention period for CLE course materials was changed from four years (which is the current policy) to six years so that sponsors only have two retention periods to track – two years for course evaluations and six years for course materials and for attendance reports.
- Sponsors – Private law firm, corporate legal department, and government sponsors must submit both the Form 1 and the Form 1 fee within 14 days of the CLE activity or else a late fee will be assessed.
- Comity Certificates of MCLE Compliance must be issued on or after October 1 of the last year of the lawyer’s reporting period to be valid. A late fee will be assessed for any comity certificates submitted after February 1 following the end of a lawyer’s reporting period.
Feel free to contact Kathy Todd at email@example.com with any questions or comments.