The Oregon Supreme Court recently approved several amendments to the MCLE Rules. The basic 45 hour requirement and the types of credits that must be earned remain the same; the changes are designed to make the rules clearer for members and sponsors. The Board of Governors has also made some changes in the MCLE Regulations to correspond to the rule changes. The full text of the rules and regulations as amended is available online at www.osbar.org. Following is a brief overview of the changes.
Rule Three, has been significantly revised to clarify the 'professional responsibility' requirement. Former Rule 3.3 generated considerable confusion about the distinction between ethics credits and credits for 'other aspects of professional responsibility.' Amended Rule 3.2 now clearly distinguishes the three types of professional responsibility credits that must be earned: ethics, child abuse reporting and 'elimination of bias.' The Board of Governors and the court agreed that 'elimination of bias' is more clearly descriptive of the purpose of the requirement. Additionally, new language has been added to Rule 5.5 to define elimination of bias programs as those 'directly related to the practice of law and designed to educate attorneys to identify and eliminate from the legal profession and from the practice of law, biases against persons because of race, gender, economic status, creed, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or sexual orientation.'
The rule on out-of-state compliance was revised to clarify that members whose principal office is not in Oregon must complete 45 hours of accredited CLE activities in each reporting period unless the principal office is in a jurisdiction with which Oregon has an MCLE reciprocity agreement. Currently, Oregon has MCLE reciprocity with Washington, Idaho and Utah. Members whose principal office is in those jurisdictions can satisfy their Oregon MCLE requirement by providing certification that they are in compliance in their home state. However, all out-of-state lawyers, including those in reciprocity jurisdictions, must complete the one hour child abuse reporting education credit that is required by ORS 9.114.
With the new amendments, Oregon joins the majority of MCLE jurisdictions in the way that teaching credits are awarded. Previously, one hour of teaching credit was allowed for each 60 minutes of actual instruction, with no credit for time spent in preparation. If written materials were included with the oral presentation, a separate application for research and writing was required. Amended Rule 5.2(a) allows four credits for each hour of instruction if the presentation includes written materials, or two credits for each hour of instruction if the presentation does not include written materials. Members use Form 3 to apply for teaching credit whether or not written materials are part of the presentation. Form 4 is now used only for research and writing that is not in conjunction with a teaching activity.
Another revision in the teaching rule clarifies that credit is allowed only for continuing education directed at lawyers. Credit is not allowed for activities for which the primary audience is nonlawyers unless there is evidence that the activity contributed to the professional education of the presenter. Similarly, participation in or teaching activities offered to members of other professions or occupations may be accredited if they meet the MCLE accreditation standards.
The amendments to the MCLE Regulations conformed them to the amended Rules. In addition, the Board of Governors clarified in Regulation 6.1 that up to three elimination of bias credits earned in excess of the requirement in one reporting period and not applied to the member’s general requirement can be carried over to the next reporting period.
In other MCLE news, we are moving to 'transcript' reporting in 2004. Under this system, sponsors of accredited activities will provide attendance information, which will be maintained by the bar. Shortly before the end of a member’s reporting period, the bar will send a transcript of the member’s CLE activities based on the sponsor information provided. Members make any necessary additions or correction to the transcript, then sign and file it with the bar. Because this system is being instituted in 2004, those members whose reporting period ends in December 2004 will have only one year of accredited activity on their transcripts and will have to list their 2002 and 2003 activities in a spreadsheet as in the past. Members whose reporting periods end in 2005 will have two years of activities on their transcripts; not until 2006 will members have a full three years of activities included on their transcripts. Members who attend programs for which sponsors have not sought accreditation by the OSB will continue to make their own application for credit.
If you have questions about these new developments in MCLE rules, regulations and reporting, contact Denise Cline, MCLE coordinator, at email@example.com or (503) 620-0222, ext. 315.