The comment period for a proposed rule change under California's MCLE Rule (Rules of the State Bar, Title 2, Div. 4, Rule 2.52 and Title 3, Div. 5, Ch. 1, Rule 3.601) is now open until September 8, 2012.
The proposed change (to a single word in the rule) would clarify and eliminate any ambiguity as to what constitutes permissible and credit-worthy MCLE, and expand the scope of acceptable MCLE to expressly cover programs and activities that relate directly to the management and operation of a member's law office and to mediation training.
According to the executive summary/agenda:
"In the past, there has been some confusion by MCLE providers as to the types of programs that will qualify for MCLE credit under certain broad categories."
This proposed change hopes to clarify this for providers.
Under the current regulations, education courses on the management of law practice do not qualify for MCLE credit. Examples include:
- Topics related to business or financial management of a law firm;
- Topics related to law office operation, including but not limited to facilities, staffing, systems and equipment;
- Topics related to creation and improvement of legal case work and work flow management, including time management of attorneys and support staff, and delegation of responsibility;
- Topics related to the competent delivery of legal services and/or the establishment and maintenance of effective law office management;
- Topics related to communications by and between attorneys and support staff;
- Topics related to the use of computer and/or Internet technology in the practice of law or the management of a law office;
- Topics related to the lawful and ethical management of a law office’s financial accounts including client trust accounts;
- Topics relating to lawful and ethical client fee agreements, fee sharing and referral arrangements.
Since these are areas in which attorneys encounter difficulties, i.e., discipline and attorney malpractice, the MCLE staff believe that it would be appropriate to once again permit MCLE credit for these types of courses.
Where the current rule reads that “the program must relate to legal subjects…AND have significant current professional and practical content” – the proposed change would make this “the program must relate to legal subjects…OR have significant current professional and practical content”. This actually gives the provider much more deference in planning programs that may not be substantive legal topics but which relate to the profession of the law.
Direct comments to:
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 538-2273