On Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 4:00 p.m., the Maryland Supreme Court will hold an online forum to receive brief, verbal comments on the final report and recommendations of the Workgroup to Study Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) in Maryland. The forum will be livestreamed on the Court’s webcast page.
MSBA Past President M. Natalie McSherry and MSBA President-Elect Raphael J. Santini, co-chairs of MSBA’s MCLE Report Response Task Force, will testify at the hearing on behalf of MSBA.
Anyone wishing to speak at this forum should, by close of business on December 11, send an email to the Clerk of the Court at CLEfeedback@mdcourts.gov requesting information on how to join the online forum.
The Maryland Judiciary MCLE Report and the MSBA’s Recommendations
In November 2022, the Supreme Court of Maryland commissioned a work group to study whether to implement MCLE in Maryland and, if so, how it should be implemented. On June 16, 2023, the work group issued a report recommending that Maryland adopt a MCLE rule and require attorneys to complete a certain number of CLE credits each year to retain their bar admission.
Following the release of the Judiciary Report, the MSBA Board of Governors determined that it should monitor developments related to the report and ensure that members were informed of these developments. To do so, MSBA built a webpage with the latest details and developments.
The Board of Governors also voted to remain neutral on the question of whether mandatory CLE should be adopted and solicited member feedback. The Board created an MCLE Rapid Response Task Force (the Task Force). The Task Force was charged with collecting member feedback to provide comprehensive comments to the Maryland Judiciary.
Feedback received from members made clear that there are mixed perspectives related to mandatory education. Positive themes include improved public perception, maintaining standards of practice, avoiding misconduct, and the potential for increased participation in pro bono work. Members described positive professional benefits from a variety of existing MSBA and local bar association educational programs and requested that these activities receive accreditation. Considerations members noted include time constraints and costs for taking, tracking, and reporting CLE credits, flexible reciprocity with other states and/or legal-adjacent practice areas, and penalties for lack of compliance.
Given this mixed feedback, the MSBA remains neutral as to whether the Maryland Judiciary should proceed with the adoption of MCLE in Maryland.
If the Maryland Judiciary Moves Forward with the Adoption of MCLE, MSBA Strongly Advocates for an Innovative, Attorney-Friendly Model
Based on the feedback received from members, and MSBA’s expertise as an accredited provider in three neighboring MCLE states and an active participant in national CLE-related organizations, MSBA recommends that any MCLE program adopted in Maryland should include:
- Flexible and inclusive reciprocity and accreditation standards that include both traditional CLE, and other high-quality programs and activities, including pro bono, valued by Maryland attorneys, to address the time and affordability concerns of practitioners;
- No limits on distance learning, allowing all MCLE credits to be completed digitally;
- Easy self-reporting and compliance measures that coincide with the current IOLTA and pro bono reporting deadline to encourage participation;
- A reasonable exemption, waiver, and reactivation policy;
- Acknowledgement of MSBA as a presumptive provider, and immediate accreditation of MSBA’s CLE programs already accredited with the surrounding MCLE states; and
- MSBA representation on any governing MCLE Commission or Board.
MSBA will continue to provide widely accredited, affordable CLE programs to attorneys through in-person and online offerings, regardless of whether a minimum CLE requirement begins in Maryland, in its role to support and educate the profession.