The 2023–24 Board of Governors met on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, for the second time since being inaugurated at the June Legal Summit & Annual Meeting. The agenda was largely overshadowed by the recent passing of two Maryland judges, Hon. Andrew Wilkinson of the Circuit Court of Maryland for Washington County and Hon. J. Frederick Motz, a retired Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. As such, before attending to any business, the Board observed a moment of silence in honor of both MSBA members.
MSBA Board of Governors Votes to Support the Maryland Judiciary and Measures to Improve the Safety and Security of Maryland Judges
In light of the tragic events surrounding Judge Wilkinson’s passing, the MSBA Board of Governors committed to supporting the Maryland Judiciary and measures to improve the safety and security of Maryland judges. The judicial process, a cornerstone of our democracy, relies on judges being able to apply the law and deliver justice without fear of retaliation. As the only statewide organization that speaks on behalf of the entire profession, the MSBA is committed to preserving the integrity of the judicial system, and ensuring the safety of all involved in the delivery of justice.
MCLE Response Task Force Presents Findings from Feedback Sessions; Members Share Mixed Views of MCLE Noting Both Positive Implications and Concerns
The Board also heard from the MCLE Response Task Force. As part of its presentation, the task force shared the results of feedback gathered from members through the many available channels, including listening sessions, written comments, and brief surveys. Feedback from members has been mixed on the idea of a minimum continuing legal education standard (MCLE) in Maryland, with members weighing in both for and against the concept. Some of the more positive implications noted by members include:
- Improving professionalism and civility within the profession
- Elevating the profession and improving public perception of the profession
- Appreciation for existing program variety with MSBA and other local and specialty bar associations
- Aligning Maryland lawyers with other states and professions within Maryland
Concerns from members included:
- Time needed to take, track, and report MCLE credits
- Cost of taking MCLE and its adverse impact on solo and small firm practitioners
- Impact of non-compliance
- Expanded exemptions beyond what was recommended by the report
- Lack of direct evidence of MCLE on claims or insurance rates
MCLE Response Task Force Recommends MSBA Maintain Neutral Posture and Commit to Including Free CLE as Part of Membership
As a result of this feedback, the MCLE Response task force made recommendations related to the comments it should provide to the Maryland Judiciary as well as other steps the MSBA should take to ensure that members are supported if MCLE is adopted in Maryland. The Task Force recommended the following:
- MSBA should continue to take a neutral posture with respect to whether the Maryland Judiciary adopts MCLE given the widespread views of membership. However, MSBA should share a summary of all membership feedback received including both the positive implications and concerns voiced by members.
- MSBA comments to the Maryland Judiciary should include an argument in the alternative that ensures the MSBA, as the voice of the legal profession, has a seat at the table if the Maryland Judiciary decides to adopt MCLE. In this vein, the MSBA will further advise of member concerns and advocate for an MCLE program that is attorney friendly.
- MSBA should commit to including enough digital accredited CLE in the price of membership to cover any MCLE requirements for the next 10 years. Along with this, MSBA will remain committed to producing high-quality, affordable accredited CLE that is accessible to members across the state and beyond. MSBA will invest in technology allowing members to easily take, track, and report MCLE credits as necessary.
The Board approved the recommendations with one additional amendment. Specifically, the Board moved to include MSBA’s organizational commitment to advocating and improving diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the legal profession. The MCLE Response Task Force is now charged with drafting MSBA’s written comments to the Maryland Judiciary consistent with the recommendations outlined above, the feedback received from members, and MSBA’s organizational commitment to DEIA.