The Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board has announced changes in rules and regulations that will permit more credits to be earned via distance learning, and will increase the annual ethics requirement.
By Supreme Court order, Pa.R.C.L.E. Rule 108 (e) has been changed to increase the amount of credits lawyers may earn via alternate delivery methods from four (4) to six (6) credits annually. The board also adopted a regulation change to increase the ethics component of the annual CLE requirement from one (1) to two (2) credit hours. The total number of CLE credits required annually will remain 12 hours. The amendments to the rules and regulations will take effect with CLE compliance periods that begin in 2014 and have requirement deadlines in 2015. The ethics credit increase marks the first significant modification to the CLE requirement since 1996 when the total requirement expanded from nine credits to12. The new provisions for distance learning will provide lawyers the option of completing up to half of their annual requirement through distance learning and computer-based education. For more information on PA CLE requirements, please visit www.pacle.org, email the PA CLE Board at: [email protected] or call 800-497-2253 or 717-231-3250
Unless otherwise exempt, every active New Jersey licensed attorney in good standing is required to complete 24 credit hours of continuing legal education every two years. Of those 24 credits, at least four must be in ethics and/or professionalism. BCLE Reg. 201:1
“Alternate verifiable learning format” courses are those courses presented on videotape, audiotape, remote-place viewing, on-line Internet computer presentations, webinars, webcasts, podcasts, satellite simulcasts, teleconferences, video conferences, and Internet computer self-study. BCLE Reg. 103:1(b) Alternate verifiable learning format courses are limited to one-half of the total credit requirement in any compliance period. BCLE Reg. 201:4
Can attorneys take courses by tape, on-line, or through another form of technology? Generally, yes. The courses must be approved for CLE course accreditation. Courses offered under an alternative verifiable learning format must have a reliable method of verifying and recording participation. Again, courses taken through alternative verifiable learning formats shall account for no more than one-half of the total credit hour requirement per compliance period. BCLE Reg. 201:8 and 301:9.
For attorneys admitted in or after 2009: You have some special requirements! Here’s what the NJ CLE Board says: “In their first full two-year compliance period, New Jersey attorneys admitted in 2009 or thereafter, must take 15 of the 24 credit hours in five of the following nine subject areas: NJ basic estate administration; NJ basic estate planning; NJ civil or criminal trial preparation; NJ family law practice; NJ real estate closing procedures; NJ trust and business accounting; NJ landlord/tenant practice; NJ municipal court practice; and NJ law office management. BCLE Reg. 201:2)”
How does an attorney obtain a Certificate of Attendance? Upon completion of a course from a New Jersey-approved provider or of a course that has been approved in New Jersey, the provider must give the attorney a New Jersey Certificate of Attendance. For courses completed out of state through reciprocity, a completed copy of that state’s Certificate of Attendance form will suffice as certification of attendance. BCLE Reg. 301:8
Are attorneys required to report to the Board as each course is completed? No. The New Jersey program is self-reporting and the Board does not track an attorney’s credit-by-credit course work. Attorneys must maintain possession of their Certificates of Attendance (provided by your CLE Provider upon completion of a course) for at least three years. In the event of an audit, attorneys will be asked to produce those records to verify compliance. The attorney is responsible for keeping track of the courses he or she takes toward compliance with the NJ mandatory CLE requirement. BCLE Reg. 401:1
Does the NJ CLE Board offer reciprocity for other state’s CLEs? Yes, with certain limitations (see below). New Jersey attorneys who are satisfying the CLE requirement of another mandatory CLE state or who take courses approved for CLE by 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. Attorneys relying on reciprocity 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, professionalism and/or professional responsibility. In addition, half of the required credits must be earned from attendance at live courses with the instructor physically in the same room as the participants. A course taken that has not been approved in a mandatory CLE jurisdiction will not have the benefit of reciprocity.
For more information, feel free to contact the NJ CLE Board: (609) 633-9733 or email your questions to: [email protected]
Other States: Please note that many other states offer reciprocity for PA and/or NJ approved courses. Typically, all you need is a Certificate of Completion/Attendance from us to comply.
We are happy to help! If you are a member of a bar other than PA or NJ, please contact your state’s CLE Board for more information on their reciprocity policies & procedures and let us know what you need.