Mandatory Continuing Legal Education

Christine L. Poarch, Chair

The Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board (Board) was established by the Supreme Court of Virginia in 1985 to administer the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education regulatory program (MCLE) in the interest of public protection.  The Board is authorized to adopt regulations and provide general oversight of the program.

The MCLE Board consists of twelve members appointed for three-year terms by the Virginia Supreme Court. MCLE Board members for the 2020 fiscal year included Christine L. Poarch of Salem, Kimberly A. Pierro of Richmond (Vice-Chair), Mark S. Brennan of Richmond, Henry L. Chambers Jr of Richmond, Janet James of Virginia Beach, Johnny A. Martin of Bristol, Shukita L. Massey of Hampton, Scott A. Nerlino of Alexandria, William H. Old of Newport News, Michael D. Pierce of Norfolk, Joanna L. Suyes of Richmond, and Tameeka M. Williams of Norfolk. Karen Gould, Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, serves as an ex officio member of the Board, Justice Stephen R. McCullough serves as the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Board, and Demetrios J. Melis, Director of Regulatory Compliance for the Virginia State Bar, services as the staff liaison to the Board.    

The MCLE Board met five times during FY2020 at the Virginia State Bar’s Richmond office to consider course applications, attorney requests for extensions and waivers, and other matters integrally related to the administration of the MCLE program in Virginia. Over the last reporting cycle, the MCLE staff and Board considered 24,474 course approvals and 27 waiver/extension requests.  The MCLE staff has continued to implement methods to more efficiently utilize the Board’s regulations and opinions to evaluate continuing legal education courses.  This enables the Board to focus more on larger programmatic and policy matters.  This year, the Board reviewed MCLE Opinion 17 to add additional language broadening the scope to address topics of cybersecurity and data privacy and MCLE Opinion 19 to provide additional information on topics approvable for wellness credit.  Due to concerns related to Covid-19 the meetings scheduled for March and May 2020 were canceled.

In coordination with Justice Stephen R. McCullough, the Supreme Court of Virginia’s liaison to the MCLE Board, we developed an initiative to solicit input from a wide-cross section of CLE providers to gather feedback and present concrete recommendations for the MCLE Board’s consideration to improve the course application process. While this effort was aimed at obtaining feedback from providers, the resulting improvements would have improved the experience for both providers and Virginia lawyers.

Unfortunately, before this initiative could be implemented, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated its indefinite delay both because of social distancing guidelines, the staff’s rapid shift in priorities to address mission essential services and in light of the challenges facing the broader MCLE provider community. It is our intent to re-start this outreach effort at an appropriate and safe time.

Like all of us, I am hopeful the upcoming year proves to return us to a more stable foundation from which to continue the important work of the Virginia MCLE Board. 

The leadership of the MCLE Board for the upcoming fiscal year will be Christine L. Poarch serving as Chair. Mark S. Brennan will serve as Vice Chair.

I would like to thank all of the Virginia State Bar’s Regulatory Compliance Department who carry out the Board’s daily administrative operations as well as the MCLE Board members for their voluntary contributions of both time and knowledge.

Updated: Jul 19, 2020