The Ohio Supreme Court recently asked for feedback on the CLE system in Ohio. To that end, it has sent surveys to attorneys and judges. The Court’s press release discussing the input it is requesting, which can be found here, notes that the CLE Commission wants input on four topics in particular:
- How CLE is delivered and earned.
- Should self study course credit be capped, is the current six-hour cap sufficient or should it be expanded?
- Are rules that preclude an event from CLE credit if food is consumed still relevant?
- Would attorneys engage in more pro bono activity if they received CLE credit for such work?
Regarding the second issue raised by the Court on “self-study course credit,” the CBA has taken the position – consistent with the positions of all the other metro bar associations in the state (Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo) and with the Ohio State Bar Association — that the “self-study” (i.e., online CLE) cap of 6 hours should be increased to 12 hours but not removed completely. For a variety of reasons, the CBA has opposed removing the cap completely. Chief among those reasons is a concern that attending classroom instruction provides attorneys with a valuable opportunity to interact with other attorneys and judges.
The third issue about serving food at a CLE — as you know, the rules currently provide that you cannot “eat and learn — has been the bane of many attorneys’ CLE existence. I wouldn’t be surprised if the CLE rules are change to allow for the consumption of food during a CLE, but also look for some restriction on the consumption of alcohol during CLE presentations.
Finally, the fourth issue regarding CLE-credit-for-pro-bono-service has been hotly contested. In 2009, the Ohio State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Task Force issue this proposal, which proposed giving one CLE hour of credit for each six hours of “pro bono” work. Separately, there have been proposals to make pro bono “mandatory” and require some minimum number of hours of pro bono service. Thus far, neither idea has gained traction at the Ohio-Supreme-Court level.
Personally, though I support and would encourage attorneys to take up pro bono matters (such help is sorely needed), the mandatory-pro-bono idea and the pro-bono-in-lieu-of-CLE idea do not seem like good ideas. I don’t think that forced CLE or incentives that reward pro bono participation should replace the attorney’s professional commitment to engage in pro bono service.
My personal views aside, if you have a thought about these issues, let the CLE Commission know. By the end of the year, expect some sort of revised CLE rules to be published by the Court — and keep an eye out for changes to the CLE rules.