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Are Maryland lawyers ready to move to mandatory CLE?

Rachel Konieczny//September 15, 2023

Are Maryland lawyers ready to move to mandatory CLE?

By Rachel Konieczny

//September 15, 2023

The Maryland Supreme Court is soliciting comments to determine whether continuing legal education could become mandatory for Maryland-barred attorneys.

In a June, a work group commissioned in November by the Maryland Supreme Court issued a report recommending that attorneys be required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of CLE each year.

The work group, chaired by Maryland Appellate Court Judge Stuart Berger and comprised of 27 attorneys, legal academics and judges, also recommended a “1-1-1 plan” within the proposed 12-hour requirement. Under that proposal, attorneys should complete at least one-hour each of CLE concerning three categories: 1) ethics and professional responsibility; 2) diversity, equity, and inclusion; and 3) mental health and substance abuse.

As reason for this proposed mandate, the work group in its report cited the American Bar Association’s (ABA) role in shaping trends and standards in the legal profession. The report mentioned the ABA’s recommendation in 1881 for “a national uniform type of academic training for lawyers which would take place in a three-year university course.”

The report also cited the national growth of CLE.

According to the ABA, 46 other jurisdictions currently require some form of mandatory CLE, including Maryland’s neighbors — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Maryland State Bar Association President Jason DeLoach said it’s a great idea for Maryland’s top court to solicit comments on this matter and “get a sense of what the bar wants in this regard.”

DeLoach said that while some MSBA members are in favor of a CLE requirement, others are not.

“To the extent that it is instituted, we just want to make sure we have a seat at the table and make sure that the Supreme Court understands the concerns to the extent there are concerns about it and address them,” DeLoach said. “I’m confident with this open period that we have until Nov. 10 that we’re going to be able to do that.”

Berger, the work group’s chair, acknowledged the hard work of the group over many virtual meetings that studied the details of the CLE program implemented in other states.

“I’m hoping that we get lots of comments, and the Supreme Court can digest those comments and consider those comments when considering the report and recommendation of the entire work group,” Berger said.

DeLoach said the MSBA is prepared for a mandatory CLE and since 2010 has been an accredited CLE provider for neighboring jurisdictions.

DeLoach directed MSBA members to for further information on Minimum Continuing Legal Education.

The comment period closes on Friday, Nov. 10. Comments on the report and its recommendations may be sent to the Clerk of the Maryland Supreme Court at [email protected].


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