The new MCLE rule (APR 11) taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016,
gives lawyers the opportunity to customize their continuing education to best meet their needs. Lawyers will be
able to take advantage of new MCLE-approved course
subjects and activities to address important topics like
lawyer-client issues, office management, personal and
professional development, and stress management, in addition to the standard ethics and law and legal procedure
subjects. The increased flexibility is designed to create
more meaningful learning opportunities to support excellent lawyer-client relationships and office practices and
improve work-life balance, job satisfaction, and career
stability, which should ultimately benefit clients as well as
lawyers. Here is a quick reference guide:
6 ETHICS CREDITS
Ethics credits can be earned by writing, participating in a
structured mentoring program, or attending or presenting
courses in ethics.
15 LAW & LEGAL PROCEDURE CREDITS
At least 15 credits must be earned from attending approved courses (live or recorded) in the subject of law and
24 OTHER CREDITS
The remaining 24 credits can be earned in the above categories, as well as in the new subject areas:
• Professional development
• Personal development and mental health
• Office management
• Improving the legal system
Or by engaging in approved activities, such as:
• Legal writing
• Legal teaching
• Providing pro bono legal services
• Judging law school competitions
• Participating in a structured mentoring program
NO LIVE CREDITS REQUIREMENT
The 2013–15 reporting group (the group that needs to finish
credits by Dec. 31, 2015, and certify by Feb. 1, 2016) will need to
meet the current MCLE requirements. The 2014–16 reporting
group will be the first group affected by the new MCLE rules.
All credits will be migrated to the benefit of the lawyer, i.e.,
“general credits” will be migrated to the new reporting
system as “law and legal procedure credits.”
For more information, go to www.wsba.org/mcle.
Fewer restrictions, more
options, better outcomes.
Smart education Lifelong learning
by Renata de Carvalho Garcia
“Do you still go to school?” These were the words my
daughter, who was three years old at the time,
bluntly shouted in the middle of her preschool
classroom when she found out that I was
dropping her off so I could go to law school.
Her disbelief was genuine and my amazement was immediate. At that moment, I
became overly conscious of something I
already knew: I would never stop going to
school. I left her classroom and walked to
criminal procedure class consumed with parental guilt and hardly prepared to discuss Terry
stops. If only I had known about mindfulness in the law back then.
Today, I am in grade “CLE,” but, unlike law school, I am in charge.
I am able to choose when and what to learn to be a better lawyer,
and that means learning a lot more than just about the law. Yes,
the law is constantly changing and lawyers who don’t keep up with
it will fall behind. Frequently overshadowed skills, such as office
management and the ability to manage stress and address mental
health issues, are also essential in sustaining the practice of law
and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Fortunately for lawyers, their clients, and the general public,
this concept has been recognized and codified in the new MCLE
rules (APR 11) taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016, which gives lawyers
the opportunity to customize their continuing education to best
meet their needs. The new approved course subjects provide an
opportunity to earn continuing legal education credit for topics
like lawyer-client issues, office management, personal development, and stress management, in addition to black letter law.
Alternatively, starting next year, credits may also be earned by
writing, teaching, mentoring, judging law school competitions,
and providing pro bono legal services — activities that can be
done at any time and are essentially free.
Despite good intentions and the good old New Year’s resolution not to procrastinate, demanding schedules and the absence
of motivation can often result in frantically cramming courses
every three years during November and December. The upcoming elimination of the live credit requirement means courses can
be taken from the comfort of homes, offices, beach houses, or
even beaches, for those with good anti-glare screen protectors.
And, as always, in-person seminars and learning opportunities
will continue to be available for those who prefer to earn credits
that way. Although the total credit requirement is still the same
( 45 credits), the increased flexibility of the new MCLE rules is
designed to create more meaningful learning opportunities. As
my daughter and I are well aware, despite all life demands and
countless exceptional reasons to procrastinate, one thing is
certain: learning is a lifelong journey.
Renata de Carvalho Garcia is the WSBA MCLE
manager and can be reached at email@example.com.