Tuesday, May 22, 2018

CLE: The Learning Never Stops

As reported in the ABA Journal this week, the North Carolina State Bar has proposed an amendment to its annual requirements for continuing legal education (CLE). Attorneys in North Carolina are already required to complete 12 credit hours of approved CLE each year; the proposal, if approved, would mandate that one of those hours be focused on "technology training" topics. (As outlined in the State Bar website, some of those hours must already focus on professional responsibility topics, including substance abuse awareness.)

Back in 2012, the American Bar Association amended Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.1 on competent representation, in order to include an understanding of technology within its scope. Comment 8 to the rule now reads, "To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject" (emphasis added). Since that time, 31 states have formally adopted a similar duty of technology competence for attorneys in their professional rules.

In 2016, Florida became the first state to require CLE credit hours focused specifically on technology topics. As noted in the ABA Journal this week, Pennsylvania is considering a similar update to its CLE requirements, and many more states will likely follow suit.

Continuing legal education requirements already vary widely by jurisdiction. The West LegalEdcenter maintains a helpful interactive map of required credit hours, with links to state bar websites for more information. CLE is mandatory in nearly all states, with the exceptions of Maryland, Massachusetts, and South Dakota (the District of Columbia bar likewise does not have mandatory CLE). Within mandatory CLE states, there is wide variety in the amount of credit hours required, the length of the reporting period, specialized topics required, and whether credit hours may be completed online. (Note: Current Duke Law faculty and staff who need to complete CLE credit hours can be added to the West LegalEdcenter.)

Beyond fulfilling professional education requirements, CLE publications can be useful legal research tools. Historical North Carolina CLE publications can be found in the online catalog. Current publications from North Carolina and other states can be found online:
  • Bloomberg Law: To browse CLE publications, follow the path All Legal Content Search > U.S. Secondary Sources > Books & Treatises to view titles. State CLE publications are available from Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJ ICLE), North Carolina Continuing Legal Education (NC CLE), and the Oregon State Bar.
  • Lexis Advance: Under Content Browse, select "Secondary Sources" to view publishers. Available state CLE publications include Continuing Education of the Bar (California), The Florida Bar, Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA), Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc., New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, North Carolina Continuing Legal Education, The Missouri Bar, State Bar of Arizona, South Carolina Bar, and CLE materials from the University of Kentucky.
  • Westlaw: Under Secondary Sources, click the Publication Type filter for "CLE & Seminar Materials" to view available titles. State CLE publishers in Westlaw include Maryland Continuing Legal Education, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, and the State Bar of Texas.

For help with locating a particular CLE publication, or with other questions about attorney professional responsibility requirements, be sure to Ask a Librarian.