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Minimum Continuing Legal Education | MCLE

 
 

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On September 12, 2023, the Maryland Judiciary released a report recommending that Maryland adopt a minimum continuing legal education requirement for Maryland barred attorneys (MCLE).  The recommendations are the product of a workgroup commissioned by the Supreme Court of Maryland in November 2022.  The workgroup, chaired by the Honorable Stuart R. Berger of the Appellate Court of Maryland, consisted of 27 attorneys, judges, and legal academics from diverse backgrounds and locations throughout the state.  Consistent with any significant measures that would impact the profession, the MSBA had the honor of appointing two of the representatives on the workgroup and were asked to consider appointing members from solo and small firm attorneys and diverse geographies. 

With the release of the report, the Supreme Court of Maryland is soliciting feedback on the recommendations through November 10, 2023.   

You can find the link to the full report, a summary of its recommendations, and the directions for offering commentary here

The recommendations are that Maryland should adopt MCLE to align with the 46 other jurisdictions currently requiring MCLE.  More specifically, the report recommends:  

  • A minimum of 12 CLE hours per year, including one hour in each of the following subjects:  Ethics & Professionalism, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and Health & Wellness;
  • A reporting period that aligns with the calendar year or aligns with other reporting requirements for Maryland attorneys (e.g pro bono reporting);
  • The ability for attorneys to “carry over” up to 100% of excess CLE from one reporting period to the next;
  • Providing an exemption for attorneys that are registered as “inactive” or are within their first year of admission to the Maryland bar;
  • The accreditation process should be as inclusive and flexible as possible, and align with neighboring MCLE jurisdictions.

The MSBA issued this statement in response to the report. As the report notes, the MSBA has had a mixed history with MCLE.  In the early ‘90s, the MSBA proposed a rule to adopt MCLE in Maryland.  The proposal came at a time when the American Bar Association was strongly advocating for universal adoption of MCLE and nearly 38 states had recently implemented MCLE.  The MSBA’s proposal ultimately failed, and since that time the MSBA has shifted its focus to monitor MCLE developments and convene member feedback on the issue.

With the release of this report, the MSBA is committed to providing regular updates to members on any developments relating to MCLE in Maryland.  To support this effort, the MSBA has developed this dedicated webpage containing the latest information that will circulate timely updates via its blog, eWeekly newsletter or social media channels.

NEXT STEPS

After a thorough discussion of the Judiciary’s report at our Board of Governors meeting on September 20th, 2023, the MSBA Board adopted a plan for the organization’s response. 

  1. The Board agreed to monitor developments related to the report and ensure that members are kept informed of those developments. The MSBA will continue to provide the latest updates in a timely manner on this landing page, our blog, our weekly e-newsletter (in inboxes on Tuesdays) and our social media channels.
  2. An MCLE Response Task Force has also been created for the purpose of reviewing feedback from members, making recommendations to the Board of Governors based on the feedback, and preparing comprehensive comments on behalf of the MSBA to be submitted to the Maryland Judiciary in advance of the Judiciary’s comment deadline of November 10, 2023. 
  3. The Board agreed that MSBA should work to gather feedback from members. To facilitate this process, the MSBA invites members to provide feedback through an online portal (found below) and via virtual listening sessions which will be scheduled by the Task Force and posted here. 
  4. The Board agreed to host a virtual town hall for local and specialty bars to weigh in on the issue. 

For a full update “From the Boardroom”- read our latest blog.

The MSBA will strive to be the voice of the practitioners throughout this process, as well as the source of knowledge about what this will mean to the profession in Maryland.

 

FEEDBACK PORTAL

The feedback portal is currently closed. The MCLE Response Task Force will be reviewing feedback from members, making recommendations to the Board of Governors based on the feedback, and preparing comprehensive comments on behalf of the MSBA to be submitted to the Maryland Judiciary in advance of the Judiciary’s comment deadline of November 10, 2023. Please check back later for updates.