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Attorney FAQ

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.

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.

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.

Each attorney admitted to the practice of law in Ohio or registered for corporate, emeritus pro bono, and temporary military spouse status shall comply with Ohio’s CCLE requirements as outlined in Ohio Gov.Bar Rule X.  Exemptions from the CLE requirements are limited.  (See Question 9 for additional information regarding exemptions).

Attorneys shall complete a minimum of 24 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 Gov.Bar Rule X, Sec. 7 (Proration of Credit Hours).

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.

Thirty minutes of actual instruction equals half a credit hour. No CLE credit is given for breaks, opening, or closing remarks. 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.

Attorneys must complete, as part of the 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.

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.

Some attorneys are automatically exempt from the CLE requirements based on their employment status or registration status. Other attorneys are exempt only upon approval by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Automatic Exemptions.

Attorneys registered as inactive pursuant to Gov.Bar R. VI, Sec. 5, registered as retired pursuant to Gov.Bar R. VI, former Sec. 3 (prior to Sept. 1, 2007), are also 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.

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

  • An attorney on full-time military duty who does not engage in the private practice of law in Ohio.
  • An attorney suffering from a severe, prolonged illness or disability that prevents participation in accredited programs and activities for the duration of the illness or disability.
  • An attorney who has demonstrated special circumstances unique to that attorney and constituting good cause to grant an exemption.
  • The following judges are exempt from the CLE requirements while in office: (1) United States judges appointed to office for life pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution; (2) United States bankruptcy judges; and (3) United States magistrate judges.

Attorneys admitted to the practice of law by examination 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 fulfill some of their new lawyers training requirements 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 refer to the New Attorney FAQ.

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). An attorney admitted on motion may have their CLE hour requirements prorated pursuant to Gov. Bar Rule X, Section 7 and CLE Regulation 305 based on the date of admission within the CLE compliance period.  To review your specific CLE requirements as an attorney admitted on motion, you may view your record online on the Attorney Portal.

Attorneys registered inactive pursuant to Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 5, are not required to comply with CLE requirements.  If you are registered 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.

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 in the Attorney Portal.

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

There are no extensions of time to complete your CLE requirements. However, attorneys and judges who have not earned the required number of CLE credit hours by December 31 may participate in the late compliance process. A notice of apparent non-compliance, will be issued in mid-February, and attorneys are given a 90-days in which to cure the hour deficiencies. Along with completion of the hours, attorneys must pay a late compliance fee. The fee assessed will be based upon the number of deficient hours.

You may search for approved CLE activities using the CLE Activity Search.

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 apply for accreditation.  Please note attorneys cannot apply for accreditation of self-study activities.

Attorneys may receive credit for out-of-state CLE activities if the course has been approved for CLE credit in Ohio. Attorneys and Judges may apply for accreditation for a live In-person course presented outside of Ohio.  Attorneys and Judges may not apply for accreditation for self-study activities (i.e. on-demand, live webcast, teleconference and live interactive webinars).  The forms to apply for accreditation for an out-of-state activity can be found on the Supreme Court website.

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 a person or organization whose entire continuing legal education program has been accredited by the Commission pursuant to CLE Reg. 404. To become an Established Sponsor, a person or organization must meet the requirements set forth in Reg. 404. ABA accredited law schools are also deemed to be Established Sponsors.

If the program or activity takes place outside Ohio, you may apply, as an individual, to have the program accredited. For a program that is not considered to be a Special Program under Gov.Bar R. X, Reg. 100 (X) and 407.1 (A), submit the Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity (Form 6), within sixty days after the program.

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.

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 their Attorney Portal using the activity code that may have been provided by the sponsor.

Yes. But remember our records will only reflect attendance credits that have been submitted to us. Consequently, if a sponsor does not report your attendance, it is your responsibility to add the missing credits to your record. Please note that sponsors have 30 days to report attorney credits. Attorneys may add the credits to their record after 35 days of the date of the program.  Credits should be added through the Attorney Portal with the Ohio activity code number provided by the Sponsor.

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

Attorneys may view and print their CLE transcripts from the Attorney Portal.  Current and past biennial transcripts are also available online.

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 continuing legal education requirements pursuant to 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.

Yes. 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.

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 submitting a Request for Credit for Law School Attendance (Form 4), within 30 days after the last day of the course.

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 submitting a Request for Credit for Law School Instruction (Form 3), within 30 days after the last day of the course.

Attorneys and Judges may earn up to 12 hours of CLE credit per biennial compliance period for attendance at Special Programs (in-house) sponsored by an entity with which the Attorney or Judge is associated pursuant to Reg. 407.

With the exception of Attorneys in public service, for example the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, a County Prosecuting Attorney Office, a U.S. Attorney Office, a Public Defender Office, a legal department of a State or Federal agency, a legal services program, or a law department of a municipal corporation, may obtain up to 24 hours of CLE credit for Skills-Based Activities for any biennial compliance period.

Additionally, Special Programs sponsored by either the Department of Justice or the Federal Public Defender shall meet the standards of these Regulations, provided that Regulations 407.1(C), 407.1(D), and 407.1(F) shall not apply. Attorneys attending Special Programs sponsored by either the Department of Justice or the Federal Public Defender may obtain up to 24 hours of CLE credit for any biennial compliance period for attendance at such programs.

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 submitting a Request for CLE Credit for Publication (Form 5), 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.

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:

  • An organization receiving funding for pro bono programs or services from the Legal Services Corporation or the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation;
  • A metropolitan or county bar association;
  • The Ohio State Bar Association;
  • The Ohio Access to Justice Foundation;
  • Any other organization recognized by the CLE Commission as providing pro bono programs or services in Ohio.

Only pro bono legal service performed for an approved pro bono organization, may be eligible for continuing legal education credit.

Effective Jan. 1, 2023. The amendments will allow attorneys to comply with their biennial CLE requirements through approved self-study courses.

For attorneys with last names ending with M-Z who have a CLE requirement for the 2021-2022 compliance period ending Dec. 31, 2022, the self-study caps were waived previously under the Administrative Order issued on Sept. 22, 2021, allowing those attorneys to comply with the CLE requirements through approved self-study courses.

The amendments will also increase the self-study caps for judges and magistrates to 20 hours per compliance period and eliminate the separate cap for live webinars in future compliance periods. The first biennium that judges and magistrates will be subject to the new cap will be the 2023-2024 compliance period.

You may access the Court's website. If you have additional questions, please contact us at ccle@sc.ohio.gov or at 614.387.9320, option 1,  Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m.

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