As the legal profession continues to evolve, staying on top of all the changes is essential for maintaining the level of competency expected of lawyers by the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Most states have instituted mandatory CLE requirements to ensure their attorneys remain up-to-date on the best practices for serving clients.
Most recently, Connecticut joined the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions requiring some form of mandatory CLE.
On June 24th, at the state’s annual judges’ meeting, the courts approved a mandatory continuing legal education proposal that will require lawyers practicing in Connecticut to complete 12 annual hours of CLE. The hours can be obtained from attending in-person workshops, online courses, teaching law school classes, publishing articles in legal publications, and a slew of other manners.
Note however, that the rule doesn’t apply to attorneys for the calendar year in which they are admitted. The mandatory CLE requirement also doesn’t apply to state or federal judges, and attorneys who have served in the armed forces for most of the calendar year in question.
To report compliance, each year, Connecticut lawyers will denote on their annual registration the completion of their mandatory CLE requirement of 12 hours, two of which must be in the area of ethics and professionalism.
The new rule will go into effect on January 1, 2017. In the meantime, Connecticut’s Judicial Branch is formulating a minimum continuing legal education commission, made up of four Superior Court judges and four attorneys who will guide and assist the implementation of the new mandatory CLE rule.
With Connecticut’s change, now all but five U.S. jurisdictions have mandatory CLE requirements: D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and South Dakota.
42 U.S. jurisdictions also require a designated number of CLE hours be dedicated to ethics and professionalism education, including Illinois, which requires six hours of professional responsibility CLE within a lawyer’s two-year reporting period, all of which is approved right here at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
Only time will tell if the five remaining U.S. jurisdictions will adopt mandatory CLE, but one thing’s for certain, as soon as they do, we’ll be the first to fill you in.