Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board

Ronald Lee Livingston, 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 Supreme Court. Members for the fiscal year ending 2009 included Vice Chair Michael Lees Davis of Alexandria, Raymond B. Benzinger of Arlington, Paula Steinhilber Beran of Richmond, Timothy C. Carwile of Waynesboro, Craig Alexander Anthony Dixon of Smithfield, Jacqueline May Ford of Richmond, Michael Lawrence Goodman of Glen Allen, Diane Pomeroy Griffin of Portsmouth, Sharon D. Nelson of Fairfax, Eric Michael Page of Richmond, and Helen Eckert Phillips of Grundy.

The VSB’s MCLE department administers the MCLE requirements for the board. The board meets seven times per year at the VSB’s Richmond office to consider course-approval applications. Over the last reporting cycle, the MCLE staff and board have considered the following: 18,700 course approvals, 47 waiver and extension requests, and more than 114,800 certificates of attendance. Of these certificates of attendance 13,380 were posted directly to the MCLE records by the members using the new website feature that was unveiled in June, 2008. This new feature enables attorneys to post the majority of their certifications of attendance directly to their MCLE record and view their current MCLE record 24/7. Usage of this feature has been successful and continues to increase, saving time, money and effort for both our members and the MCLE department.

The board discussed the idea expressed at the Public Protection Conclave that the MCLE Board adopt a mandatory requirement that every active lawyer attend CLE hours on stress management and life and balance issues. After a thoughtful and involved discussion on the mandatory requirement issue, as well as whether and how stress management CLEs could be approved for credit, the board decided against a mandatory requirement. The board approved an opinion that expanded CLE approval to include topics of stress management and work and life balance, provided the topics are focused on the effects of these issues on the practice of law.

The board also took up the issue of adding an additional deadline in the MCLE compliance cycle of February l that would include an additional $100 delinquency fee and voted to support this proposed change to Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 19. In an effort by the VSB to promote efficiency and conserve revenues, the board was asked to consider a proposal to discontinue mailing the MCLE End of Year Report and require the members to rely on the MCLE record and information available online at VSB.org for their MCLE compliance; it voted to support this proposed change to Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 17. The board determined that with advances in technology and the information and statistics available since its approval of distance learning programs, current policies that affect this format should be reviewed. A proposed change that would require some attendance at live interactive programs was tentatively approved. The board continues to review the MCLE regulations for appropriate proposed changes.

As my term on the board is ending, I wish the new officers well. They are Mike Davis, chair, and Paula Beran, vice chair. New board members are John Adrian Gibney Jr. of Richmond, Alan Stuart Goldberg of McLean, and Melinda Lavern VanLowe of McLean as they continue the good work of the MCLE Board.

The MCLE staff, directed by Gale M. Cartwright, continues to work diligently to perform their many responsibilities. On behalf of the MCLE Board, I thank the staff for their conscientious work and dedication in helping lawyers discharge their obligation to provide competent representation of clients.

Updated: Aug 27, 2009