For those that pay attention to Ohio’s CLE rules (and that’s probably around two people, I know), there are some major proposed rule changes that are currently open for public comment. After the jump, I’ll dive into some (proposed) major changes in store for Ohio attorneys, including the ability to eat food and learn, to take up to 12 hours of on-line CLE, to avoid mandatory ethics CLE (sort of), to earn CLE for taking on a pro bono matter, and to earn more credit for writing an article or book. These rules, if passed, are likely to be effective as of January 2013 — though the Court could make them retroactive to 2012 (and the current draft lists an effective date of sometime in 2012).
If you want to drop us a line about the proposed changes, we’d love to hear from you!
The Ohio CLE rules are about to get a major overhaul. Some changes are long overdue. Others are controversial, and most changes are likely to be cheered by most. Some highlights of the “proposed” rule changes:
- “Professional Conduct Requirement” — The way you get your ethics/professionalism/substance abuse CLE is about to change. Instead of needing 1.0 hours of ethics, 1.0 hours of professionalism and .5 hours of substance abuse CLE, the court is now offering flexibility and “unbundling” this requirement. So, you need 2.5 hours total of a combination of ethics, professionalism, substance abuse — and now you can also get instruction on mental health issues and access to justice and fairness in that 2.5 hours. The requirement is being labeled as the “Professional Conduct Requirement.” In short, for example, you could take a 2.5 hour course on ethics and fulfill the requirement — and not receive instruction on any of the other topics. As a result, if passed, look for less substance abuse training (as a lot of that instruction can be repetitive). Also, there may be push-back — maybe, OLAP (Ohio Legal Assistance Program)? – as an attorney can now avoid instruction on substance abuse. At the same time, mental health issues are now included as a topic for credit.
- “Self-Study Credit” — Currently, you can view up to 6 hours of on-line CLE for credit. Under the new rules, you can get up to 12 hours. This proposal is pared back from the 18 hours that the CLE commission had initially recommended.
- “Publication Credit” — The proposal would allow for 12 hours of CLE credit for publishing a book or article, up from 10.
- “Credit for Activities Concurrent with the Consumption of a Meal” — Currently, you can’t receive CLE credit if there is food present. Seriously. If passed, you can eat and learn.
- “Pro Bono Credit” — Attorneys may receive up to 6 hours of CLE for every 6 hours of pro bono service (i.e., 36 pro bono hours = 6 CLE credits). The Cleveland area attorneys have been pushing for this rule, but some bars, like the CBA, have opposed it previously because of how the rule will be enforced. Indeed, the draft rule may make enforcement difficult in that the rule makes the CBA, among others, responsible for “certifying” that the attorney performed the requisite pro bono work. It may also create problems in that it defines pro bono as follows:
As used in this rule, “pro bono” means legal service provided to either a person of limited means or a charitable organization in which the legal service is assigned, verified, and reported to the Commission by any of the following:
- An organization receiving funding for pro bono programs or services from the Legal Services Corporation or the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation;
- A metropolitan or county bar association;
- The Ohio State Bar Association;
- The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation;
- Any other organization recognized by the Commission as providing pro bono programs or services in Ohio.
Though the details will need to be worked out, how is a group like the Columbus Bar to “verify” the nature of the pro bono work? The practical implications of this rule will need to be worked out.
- “Final Reporting Transcripts” — Instead of receiving a paper transcript, you will now file something electronically verifying the 24 hours of CLE every two years.
- “Sanctions” — There are tougher sanctions for failing to comply with the CLE rules.
If you are so inclined, the Court is accepting public comment until July 10, 2012. According to the Court,
Comments on the proposed amendments should be submitted in writing to: Susan Christoff, Director, Attorney Services Division, 5th Floor, 65 South Front Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431, or firstname.lastname@example.org not later than July 10, 2012. If your comment refers to a specific provision of the proposed amendments, please use the line numbers that appear along the left margin. Please include your full name and mailing address in any comments submitted by e-mail. Please submit comments via regular mail or e-email, not both.