Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Supreme Court Reminds Attorneys of Upcoming CLE Changes

In less than six months significant continuing legal education (CLE) changes will take effect that impact attorneys, judges, magistrates, and new lawyers.

The amendments will apply first to attorneys and judges whose last names begin with the letters M through Z and whose biennial compliance period ends December 31, 2014.

A-through-L attorneys and judges still will be required to comply with the current CLE rule and requirements for the biennial compliance period that ends December 31, 2013. The changes will impact this group beginning with the 2014/2015 biennial compliance period.

To provide guidance to Ohio’s legal professionals about what those changes entail, and how to compare what’s required now with what will be required come January, the Office of Attorney Services has compiled several reference guides on its website.

There are separate charts to compare the current and amended rules for attorneys, judges, magistrates, and new lawyers. There are also FAQs with several frequently asked questions and answers about the current and amended CLE rules for attorneys, judges, and new lawyers.

In November, the Ohio Supreme Court adopted changes that will double the number of online credit hours attorneys could earn, allow attorneys to earn a portion of their CLE hours by engaging in approved pro bono activities, and eliminate the requirement to file final reporting transcripts.

Under the rule changes, the self-study credit hours an attorney could earn each biennial period will increase from 6 to 12 hours.

As for pro bono credit, attorneys could receive 1 hour of CLE credit for every 6 hours of pro bono service up to a maximum of 6 credit hours for service performed during a biennial compliance period. To be eligible for such credit, the attorney’s pro bono service must be verified by a bar association or other organization recognized by the commission as providing pro bono programs and services in Ohio and must occur on or after January 1, 2014.

Attorneys still will be required to earn 24 hours every 2 years and be subject to monetary sanctions and suspensions for failing to meet the minimum hour requirement. However, attorneys no longer will be required to file a final reporting transcript.

Other CLE changes include:

  • Awarding credit for presentations that occur concurrent with the consumption of a meal.
  • Lowering the range of recommended sanction fines for noncompliant attorneys for hour deficiencies with the upper limit reduced from $500 to $300.
  • “Unbundling” attorney “professional conduct” instruction (i.e. instruction on ethics, professionalism, and substance abuse) to allow attorneys more flexibility in choosing courses that most closely meet their professional and practice needs. Courses on mental health issues and access to justice and fairness in the courts also would quality for “professional conduct” credit.

As for judges, they will be required to obtain 3 hours of “judicial conduct” instruction through courses offered by the Ohio Judicial College. Judicial conduct includes instruction on judicial ethics, professionalism, access to justice and fairness in the courts, and/or alcoholism, substance abuse, or mental health issues. Judges will no longer be required to take 2 separate hours of instruction on access to justice and fairness in the courts but may include such instruction toward their 3-hour judicial conduct requirement.

View the complete text of the CLE changes.

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