Continuing Legal Education for Attorneys FAQ

  1. What is the Commission on Continuing Legal Education’s purpose?
  2. Why is continuing legal education (CLE) required?
  3. Who shall comply with the CLE requirement?
  4. How many CLE credit hours are required?
  5. How are attorneys grouped for purposes of CLE reporting?
  6. How are CLE credit hours calculated?
  7. What is the Professional Conduct Requirement
  8. What if I earn more credit hours than are required for the two-year compliance period?
  9. Are there attorneys who are exempt from the CLE requirements?
  10. I am newly admitted. What are my CLE requirements?
  11. I have been admitted to practice on Motion. What are my CLE requirements?
  12. I am a magistrate. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?
  13. I am an acting judge. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?
  14. What if I change my registration status from active to inactive?
  15. What if I change my registration status from inactive to active?
  16. What if I do not comply with my CLE requirements?
  17. If I find I am unable to complete my requirements prior to the Dec. 31 deadline, may I seek an extension of time?
  18. How do I find a list of approved CLE courses?
  19. Must my CLE credits be earned in Ohio?
  20. What is a CLE Sponsor?
  21. Can an Attorney apply for CLE accreditation approval for an activity being held in Ohio?
  22. What if I wish to attend a CLE activity but the provider has not applied for approval?
  23. My firm is hosting a CLE activity. How is an in-house CLE program accredited?
  24. How will the Commission learn of my attendance at a CLE program?
  25. Does the Commission on Continuing Legal Education keep a record of my CLE activities?
  26. Should I keep a list of my CLE activities?
  27. How can I obtain a copy of my CLE record?
  28. What provisions are made for attorneys licensed in Ohio but who reside or work in another state or country?
  29. If I teach at an Approved CLE Activity, do I receive CLE credit for it?
  30. May I claim CLE credit for attending a law school class?
  31. May I claim CLE credit for teaching a law school class?
  32. May I claim CLE credit for attending the in-house CLE activities of my law firm?
  33. May I receive CLE credit for Publication?
  34. May I earn credit for engaging in pro bono legal services?
  35. How can I learn more about the CLE requirements?

DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to be a complete representation of the requirements of Rule X of the Rules Governing the Bar of the State of Ohio and the Regulations adopted under authority of this Rule or Rule IV of the Rules for the Government of the Judiciary of Ohio. For specific provision details refer to the complete text.

INTRODUCTION

1. What is the Commission on Continuing Legal Education’s purpose?

Effective July 1, 1988, the Supreme Court of Ohio created the Commission on Continuing Legal Education to administer the continuing legal education requirements of Rule X of the Rules Governing the Bar of the State of Ohio and the Regulations adopted under authority of the Rule, and Rule IV of the Rules for the Government of the Judiciary of Ohio.

The purpose of this rule is to maintain and improve the quality of legal and judicial services in Ohio by requiring continuing legal education for Ohio attorneys and regulating the provision of continuing legal education of Ohio judges.

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2. Why is continuing legal education (CLE) required?

The requirement for continuing legal education was established to ensure that, throughout their careers, attorneys admitted to practice in the State of Ohio remain current regarding the law and maintain the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to fulfill their professional responsibilities.

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3. Who shall comply with the CLE requirement?

Each attorney admitted to the practice of law in Ohio or registered for active, corporate, emeritus pro bono, and temporary military spouse attorney status shall comply with Ohio’s CCLE requirements as outlined in Ohio Gov. Bar Rule X.

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4. How many CLE credit hours are required?

Attorneys shall complete a minimum of twenty-four credit hours of approved continuing legal education for each two-year compliance period, including two and one-half hours of instruction in professional conduct, unless the hours are prorated as noted in CCLE Reg. 305.

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5. How are attorneys grouped for purposes of CLE reporting?

All Ohio attorneys have been permanently assigned to one of two groups based on the first letter of their last name at the time of admission.

If your last name begins with a letter from A through L you shall complete your educational requirements on or before December 31 of each odd-numbered year.

If your last name begins with a letter from M through Z you shall complete your educational requirements on or before December 31 of each even-numbered year.

If an attorney's name changes after the attorney is admitted to the practice of law or registers for corporate status, the attorney remains in the same alphabetical grouping as assigned when first admitted the practice of law for all future reporting purposes.

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EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

6. How are CLE credit hours calculated?

Thirty minutes of actual instruction or other approved activity equals one-half a credit hour. No CLE credit is given for breaks, opening or closing remarks, or keynote speeches, Partial hours are rounded to the nearest one quarter of an hour, provided the attorney has earned a minimum of half a credit hour of CLE credit.

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7. What is the Professional Conduct Requirement

Attorneys shall complete, as part of their minimum 24-hour requirement, 2.5 hours of instruction related to professional conduct by choosing from a range of courses that have been approved as meeting the “professional conduct” requirement.  These courses may include instruction on legal ethics, professionalism, mental health or substance abuse issues, access to justice and fairness in the courts, interacting with self-represented litigants, and pro bono representation.  For a description of the types of courses that will meet the professional conduct requirement, (see Gov.Bar R. X, Sec. 3(B)).

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8. What if I earn more credit hours than are required for the two-year compliance period?

Attorneys who complete more than the required hours of credit in a compliance period may apply a maximum of 12 credit hours to the next compliance period, provided they have timely completed and timely reported more than the required number of credit hours in a compliance period.

Excess CLE hours are carried over to the next biennial compliance period as general hours. Self-study, live interactive webinars, teaching, publication, and in-house credits all have caps on the number of hours that can be taken within a biennial compliance period, any hours taken above the caps will not  carry over.

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9. Are there attorneys who are exempt from the CLE requirements?

Yes. Attorneys are exempt from the CLE requirements based on either their registration status or  upon approval by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Automatic Exemptions.

Attorneys registered as inactive pursuant to Gov.Bar R.VI, Section 5, registered as retired pursuant to Gov.Bar R.VI, former Section 3 (prior to Sept. 1, 2007), are exempt from the CLE requirements.

Attorneys certified to practice law temporarily pursuant to Gov.Bar R.IX, foreign legal consultants registered pursuant to Gov.Bar R.XI, attorneys admitted to practice pending admission pursuant to Gov.Bar R.I, and attorneys registered for pro hac vice pursuant to Gov.Bar R.XII are exempt from the CLE requirements.

Granted Exemptions.

The following attorneys may seek and be granted an exemption from the educational requirements:

Permission to Meet CLE Requirements Through a Substitute Program of Learning.

Exemption applications will need to be completed and signed and should include documentation supporting the exemption request, and if applicable, a letter from a physician detailing how the illness or disability affects the attorney’s ability to complete CLE requirements. The application should be filed within a reasonable time after the basis for the exemption arises. Exemption applications are available at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/CLE/forms/default.asp.

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10. I am newly admitted. What are my CLE requirements?

Attorneys admitted to the practice of law by examination as well as attorneys initially registered for corporate status under Gov.Bar R.VI, Sec. 6, are required to complete 12 hours of New Lawyers Training instruction during their first biennial compliance period. Three of the 12 new lawyers training hours shall include one hour each of instruction in professionalism, law office management, and client fund management. Attorneys may meet their new lawyers training hour requirements by taking individual courses of their choosing which have been approved by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education as New Lawyer Training.

Newly-admitted attorneys may also earn 9 hours of new lawyers training by participating in the Supreme Court’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program, which is administered by the Commission on Professionalism.

For more information related to your obligations and options as a new attorney, please go to http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/CLE/nlt/FAQ.asp.

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11. I have been admitted to practice on Motion. What are my CLE requirements?

Attorneys admitted on motion are not required to comply with New Lawyers Training requirements, but are required to comply with the continuing legal education requirements of Gov.Bar R. X (i.e., 24 hours every two years).  A motion attorney's hour requirements may be prorated pursuant to Gov. Bar Rule X, Section 7 and CLE Regulation 305.  To review your specific requirements as a newly-admitted motion attorney, you should view your transcript online at https://supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttorneyPortal.

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12. I am a magistrate. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, all magistrates, including full-time and part-time magistrates, are required to earn 40 hours of continuing legal education, including 10 hours of instruction through courses offered by the Ohio Supreme Court Judicial College, every two years. Further, as part of the 10-hour Judicial College education requirement, three hours of instruction must be designated as “judicial conduct,” which may include courses on topics such as judicial ethics, judicial professionalism, and access to justice. Gov.Bar R. X, Sec. 10(C). For more information related to your obligations as a magistrate, please go to http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/magistrates/FAQ.asp.

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13. What is the Professional Conduct Requirement?

Acting Judges shall complete 24 credit hours of continuing legal instruction every two years, which shall include 10 hours of instruction provided by the Judicial College. Acting Judges are also required to earn 2.5 hours of “attorney professional conduct” education every two years.

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14. What if I change my registration status from active to inactive?

Attorneys registered inactive pursuant to Gov.Bar R.VI, Section 5, are not required to comply with CLE requirements.  If you are registered for inactive status for less than two years, you are required to complete the CLE requirements for the biennium in which you registered for inactive status, in addition to the requirements for the biennium in which you returned to active status.

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15. What if I change my registration status from inactive to active?

Upon returning to active status, an attorney will be required to comply with the continuing legal education requirements of Gov.Bar R. X.  To verify the number of hours you will need to take upon your return to active status and the deadline by which the hours must be earned, you should view your online transcript available at https://supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttorneyPortal.

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16. What if I do not comply with my CLE requirements?

Attorneys who fail to comply with the continuing legal education requirements  will be subject to late fees, monetary sanctions, and suspension from the practice of law.

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17. If I find I am unable to complete my requirements prior to the Dec. 31 deadline, may I seek an extension of time?

Attorneys who have not earned the required number of CLE credit hours by December 31 may participate in the late compliance process. Gov.Bar R. X, Sec. 17 provides that an attorney must remove all CLE hour deficiencies within 90 days of the December 31, deadline, or will be subject to sanction and/or suspension for noncompliance with the CLE requirements.  A notice of apparent non-compliance will be mailed in mid-February instructing attorneys the deficiency must be removed within 90 days of the deadline, and that evidence of compliance, along with the late compliance fee must be submitted.  The late fee will be based upon the number of deficient hours.

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COURSE ACCREDITATION

18. How do I find a list of approved CLE courses?

Upcoming approved CLE courses are posted on the Commission’s website at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/CLE/ActivitySearch. You may search for approved programs, including live in-person programs, self-study programs such as Live Webcast, On Demand, and Live Interactive Webinars. You may also search for approved new lawyers training activities by date, location, or sponsor.

If you do not find an activity you wish to attend on the approved activities list, please contact the sponsor of the activity to determine whether it will seek accreditation from the Commission.  Please note that only Sponsors may apply for accreditation of self-study programs.  Attorneys cannot apply for accreditation for self-study programs on their own behalf pursuant to Reg. 409.1(B).

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19. Must my CLE credits be earned in Ohio?

No. The key factor is whether the program or activity has been submitted to the Commission on Continuing Legal Education for accreditation, has met Ohio’s CLE requirements, and has been approved for CLE accreditation. Attorneys and Judges may apply for accreditation of a live in-person course presented outside of Ohio. The application forms can be found here.  Please note attorneys and judges may not apply for accreditation for self-study activities (i.e. on-demand, live webcast, teleconference and live interactive webinars).

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20. What is a CLE Sponsor?

A Sponsor is a person or organization that holds, or “sponsors,” a CLE activity and may be responsible for the costs associated with conducting or presenting the CLE activity. An Established Sponsor is an organization who has provided evidence of complying with the CLE accreditation requirements and seeks accreditation of its continuing legal education programs. To become an Established Sponsor, the organization must meet the requirements set forth in CLE Regulation 404.

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21. Can an Attorney apply for CLE accreditation approval for an activity being held in Ohio?

No. Sponsors must apply for accreditation for programs held in Ohio. Unless you are applying for the program approval on an “Interdisciplinary” basis, such as attending a certified public account CLE course and you are a practicing tax attorney.

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22. What if I wish to attend a CLE activity but the provider has not applied for approval?

If the program or activity takes place outside Ohio, and the activity is being held live in-person, you may apply, as an individual, to have the program accredited by completing a CCLE Form 6, Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity, and return it to our office within sixty days after the program.  If the program is an In-House program see Question 25 for additional information regarding Special Programs.

Note, however, that if the program or activity occurs in Ohio, the sponsor must apply for accreditation at least sixty days prior to the program. Unless you are applying for the program approval on an “Interdisciplinary” basis, such as attending a certified public account CLE course and you are a practicing tax attorney.

Also note that individual attorneys and judges may NOT apply for accreditation of self-study programs. Only sponsors of self-study programs may seek accreditation from the Commission.

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23. My firm is hosting a CLE activity. How is an in-house CLE program accredited?

In-house CLE programs must meet the requirements of Gov.Bar R. X and CLE Regulation 406 and CLE Regulation 407. Your firm must complete Form 8, Application for Accreditation of a Special Program or Activity for Continuing Legal Education, and return it to our office with the required attachments. Applications for accreditation of a Special Program must be received at least sixty days in advance of the date of the program and, if the program will be held in Ohio, accompanied by a $25 application fee. The fee should be submitted in the form of a check or money order, made payable to Supreme Court of Ohio. Incomplete applications or applications submitted may be returned unprocessed.

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RECORD KEEPING

24. How will the Commission learn of my attendance at a CLE program?

Sponsors who have received pre-approval of an activity for CLE credit are required to notify the Commission of your attendance within 30 days after the CLE program or activity. If the credit hours are not reported by the sponsor after 35 days, attorneys and judges may self report the hours by logging into the attorney portal using the Ohio activity code provided by the sponsor.

If you, as an attorney or judge, need to submit an application for accreditation of an in-person CLE event, (i.e., not self-study), please complete the appropriate Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity. Once completed return all required documentation as outlined on our CCLE Form 6 or Form 8 and return it to this office for processing.

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25. Does the Commission on Continuing Legal Education keep a record of my CLE activities?

Yes. The records will reflect attendance credits that have been submitted by the Sponsor or reported by an attorney. Consequently, if a sponsor does not report your attendance, it is your responsibility to keep records of the courses you completed and to verify your record on the Attorney Portal. Attorneys can add credits to their record after 35 days from the date of the program through the Attorney Portal using the activity code provided by the program sponsor.

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26. Should I keep a list of my CLE activities?

Yes. You should maintain records to demonstrate compliance with CLE requirements in the event of an error.

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27. How can I obtain a copy of my CLE record?

Attorneys may view their transcripts online at https://supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttorneyPortal.  Current and past biennial transcripts are also available online.

To receive a certified copy of your CLE record, please sent a written request containing your registration number, and beginning and ending calendar dates.

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OUT-OF-STATE ATTORNEYS

28. What provisions are made for attorneys licensed in Ohio but who reside or work in another state or country?

There are no special provisions for attorneys living or working outside Ohio. If you are registered for active or corporate status, you are required to comply with the requirements of Gov.Bar R. X.

You may apply for accreditation for the live in-person (i.e., not self-study) CLE programs you attend in other states. Please note, however, that courses approved for CLE credit in other states are not necessarily eligible for CLE accreditation in Ohio. To confirm accreditation in Ohio, please check with the sponsor of the programs you wish to attend.

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AWARD OF CLE CREDIT

29. If I teach at an Approved CLE Activity, do I receive CLE credit for it?

Yes. A request for teaching credit CCLE Form 2, must be submitted within thirty days of the presentation. You may receive three hours of CLE credit for each hour taught at an approved CLE activity for your initial presentation, and one hour of CLE credit for each hour taught for subsequent presentations of the same material during the same calendar year. If it is a panel presentation, you will receive two times the number of credit hours requested for your initial panel presentation and one times number of credit hours for subsequent panel presentations of the same material during the same calendar year.

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30. May I claim CLE credit for attending a law school class?

Yes. You may receive three hours of CLE credit for each semester hour of a course completed at an ABA-accredited law school. Pro-rata credit will be granted for quarter or trimester hours. Law school attendance credit may be requested by completing a Form 4, Request for Credit for Law School Attendance, and submitted within thirty days after the last day of the course. A $25 late fee will be assessed for credits submitted more than thirty days after the semester ends.

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31. May I claim CLE credit for teaching a law school class?

The Commission may allow three credit hours for each semester hour of a course taught by an adjunct or part-time professor at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association the first time the course is taught by that professor and one-half credit hour for each semester hour the course is subsequently taught by that professor. The Commission may allow one-half credit hour for each semester hour taught by a full-time professor at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.  Prorated credit may be granted for quarter or trimester hours. Law school teaching credit may be requested by completing a Form 3, Request for Credit for Law School Instruction, and submitted within thirty days after the last day of the course.  A $25 late fee will be assessed for credits submitted more than thirty days after the semester ends.

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32. May I claim CLE credit for attending the in-house CLE activities of my law firm?

Yes, provided the program or activity meets the requirements of Gov.Bar R. X and CLE Regulation 407.  Attorneys may earn no more than 12 hours of in-house continuing legal education credit every compliance period.

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33. May I receive CLE credit for Publication?

Yes. You may receive up to 12 hours of CLE credit per biennial compliance period for the publication of articles or books authored or prepared by you. Publication credit may be requested by completing a Form 5, Request for CLE Credit for Publication, and submitted within ninety days of publication, or by the end of your compliance period, whichever is later. Credit is awarded for the year in which the article or book is published.

To be eligible for CLE credit, the article or book must concern matters directly related to the practice of law, judicial administration, professional conduct, ethical obligations, law office economics, or other subjects that will maintain and improve the quality of legal services in Ohio. The publication should also be intended primarily for reading or use by an attorney or judge.

Credit will not be awarded for self-published materials or blogs. The publication must be published and be of substantial or scholarly quality.

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34. May I earn credit for engaging in pro bono legal services?

One hour of continuing legal education credit may be awarded for every six hours of pro bono legal service performed, with a maximum of six credit hours for service performed during a biennial compliance period.

“Pro bono” is defined as legal service provided to either a person of limited means or a charitable organization in which the legal service is assigned, verified, and reported to the CLE Commission by any of the following:

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

35. How can I learn more about the CLE requirements?

You may access the Court's website at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov to download a copy of Rule X and CLE Regulations. If you have additional questions, please contact us at ccle@sc.ohio.gov or at 614.387.9320, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m.

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