Mandatory Continuing Legal Education

Leonard C. Heath, Jr., chair

The Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Board administers the program that was established by the Supreme Court of Virginia in 1985. The rules governing the MCLE program were amended in 1990 to require all active members of the Virginia State Bar to complete a minimum of twelve hours of approved continuing legal education courses, including two hours of ethics or professionalism, each fiscal year.

The MCLE Board consists of twelve members appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court. In addition to the chair, members for fiscal year 2016 included, Carole Yeatts of Richmond, Vice Chair, Darius K. A. Davenport, Sr. of Suffolk, Afshin Farashahi of Virginia Beach, Lori Beth Galbraith of Chesapeake, Zachary A. Kitts of Fairfax, Kimberly A. Pierro of Mechanicsville, Christine L. Poarch, Cynthia M. Radomsky of Fairfax, Liza Shawn Simmons of Richmond, Lorrie Ann Sinclair of Leesburg, and George William Watkins of Waynesboro.

The Board meets seven times per year at the VSB’s Richmond office to, among other things, consider course-approval applications.  The VSB’s MCLE department provides daily administration of the MCLE requirements for the Board. Over the last reporting cycle, the MCLE staff and Board considered the following: 21,390 course approvals, 61 waiver and extension requests and approximately 157,000 certifications of attendance. Usage by attorneys of the online MCLE certification feature continues to increase and enables attorneys to post the majority of their certifications of attendance directly to MCLE record and view current MCLE record 24/7, saving time, money and effort for both our members and the MCLE department. For the 2015 MCLE compliance year over 72% of the course attendance was certified by the members online.  Six hundred (600) members have taken advantage of the newly developed iphone app for connecting to the member login portal.

Over the last reporting cycle, the Board continued to study the topics of diversity and bias in the legal profession to determine (1) if alternative approval standards are warranted and, if so, (2) what modifications should be recommended.  The Board repealed MCLE Opinion 5, dealing with waivers for attorneys practicing in patent, trademark, copyright and unfair competition law under Virginia Code § 54-42.1 (2a), because the Opinion had become legally obsolete.  The Board also approved the implementation of new fees, and the increase in certain existing fees, to take into account the staff time needed to review and process some of the more time-consuming applications.  Among other things, the increased fees will be used to create two new MCLE staff positions which should help expedite overall the processing of MCLE applications.

This year we welcomed new members Christine L Poarch of Salem, to the Board.  As this year closes, I want to thank Carole Yeatts for her fine service on the Board as member and Vice Chair.  As always, the MCLE staff, directed by Gale M. Cartwright, ensures that the MCLE process runs smoothly for both the MCLE Board and the membership of the Virginia State Bar.  The staff conscientiously provides institutional memory for the MCLE Board, even as members of the MCLE Board come and go over time.  I want to thank the staff for their good work throughout this year.  I especially want to thank Ms. Cartwright for her tireless efforts and her daily oversight of the MCLE process throughout the Commonwealth and her sage advice to the Board.  Finally, the MCLE Board is grateful for the assistance of the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, Karen Gould, who also provided continued guidance to the Board.

Updated: Aug 03, 2016