Ohio Continuing Legal Education Changes Proposed

June 11, 2012

Proposed continuing legal education (CLE) changes announced today by the Ohio Supreme Court would 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.

The Ohio Supreme Court will accept public comment until July 10 on the proposed changes.

According to Attorney Services Director Susan Christoff, the proposed changes to Gov. Bar R. X resulted from a year-long study by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and incorporated feedback from a survey of the state’s judges and active attorneys about what changes they would like made to CLE requirements.

Under the proposed rule changes, the self-study credit hours an attorney could earn each biennial period would 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.

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

Several other CLE changes are proposed as well.
•Credit could be awarded for presentations that occur concurrent with the consumption of a meal.
•The range of recommended sanction fines for noncompliant attorneys would be lowered for hour deficiencies with the upper limit reduced from $500 to $300.
•The time deadline in which attorneys would need to cure their hour deficiencies would be moved up by almost a month.

As for judges, they would be required to obtain 3 hours of “judicial conduct” instruction through courses offered by the 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 would no longer be required to take 2 separate hours of instruction on access to justice and fairness in the course but may include such instruction toward their 3-hour judicial conduct requirement.

Access the text of the proposed CLE changes.

Comments should be submitted in writing to:

Susan Christoff, Director, Attorney Services Division
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., Fifth Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

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