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 administrate 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. 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, serves as the staff liaison to the Board.

Christine L. Poarch, Chair
Salem, Virginia
Second three-year term ends June 30, 2021

Kimberly A. Pierro, Vice Chair
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Second three-year term ends June 30, 2020

Mark S. Brennan
Richmond, Virginia
First three-year term ends June 30, 2020

Prof. Henry L. Chambers Jr.
Richmond, Virginia
First three-year term ends June 30, 2021

Lori Beth Galbraith
Chesapeake, Virginia
Second three-year term ended June 30, 2019

Zachary A. Kitts
Fairfax, Virginia
Second three-year term ended June 30, 2019

Janet James
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Filled unexpired term ending June 30, 2019[1]

Shukita L. Massey
Norfolk, Virginia
First three-year term ends June 30, 2021

Scott A. Nerlino
Norfolk, Virginia
First three-year term ends June 30, 2021

Michael D. Pierce
Norfolk, Virginia
Unexpired term ends June 30, 2020

Joanna L. Suyes
Richmond, Virginia
First three-year term ends June 30, 2020

Tameeka M. Williams
Norfolk, Virginia
First three-year term ends June 30, 2020

Karen A. Gould, Ex Officio Member
Executive Director
Virginia State Bar

The Honorable Stephen R. McCullough
Supreme Court Liaison
Supreme Court of Virginia

Demetrios J. Melis
Regulatory Compliance Director & Staff Liaison
Virginia State Bar                                       

Virginia MCLE Board
2018-2019 Board Members

       

At the beginning of this year, we welcomed new members Henry L. Chambers Jr., Shukita L. Massey, and Scott A. Nerlino to the Board. Victoria Pearson resigned in November and was replaced by Janet James of Virginia Beach. At the close of the year, two of our members completed their service on the Board: Lori Beth K. Galbraith and Zachary A. Kitts. The Board will miss their insight and dedication to the profession. I would also like to thank Kimberly Pierro for her service to the Board as Vice-Chair.

The Board met seven times during FY2019 at the VSB’s Richmond office to consider course-approval applications, requests for extensions and waivers, and discuss broader programmatic matters. Over the last reporting cycle, the MCLE staff and Board considered approximately 20,000 course approvals, 37 waiver and extension requests. Attorney utilization of online MCLE certification remained steady at approximately 76%.  This feature enables attorneys to post most of their certifications of attendance directly to their MCLE record and view their current MCLE record 24/7, saving time, money and effort for both lawyers and the MCLE department. 

Much of the Board’s policy efforts over the course of the past year focused on lawyer well-being. In response to the ABA’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being report issued in August of 2017 and co-authored by Chief Justice Lemons, the MCLE Board amended Opinion 19 on substance abuse, mental health disorders, stress and work/life balance topics renaming it “Opinion 19 Lawyer Well-being.” The revised Opinion 19 makes clear that lawyer well-being topics will be considered for CLE credit, so long as other MCLE requirements are satisfied. The opinion provides examples of topics and programs that may receive regular CLE and ethics/professionalism credit.

In September of 2019 the Supreme Court of Virginia Committee on Lawyer Well-being released a report entitled “A Profession at Risk.” The report contained two recommendations pertaining to the MCLE Board. The first recommendation required the Board to amend the MCLE regulations to authorize MCLE attendance and teaching credit to active members of the VSB who, on a non-compensated basis, prepare approved written materials or present approved instruction to judges or law students regarding professional health initiatives. The Board posted the amendments for comment and subsequently approved them on May 6, 2019 to be effective September 6, 2019.

To implement the second recommendation, the Court adopted an addition to Paragraph 17 of Part Six, Section I of the Rules of Court. Beginning in November 2019, active members will be required to affirm that they have attended at least one hour of lawyer well-being educationwithin the past three (3) years. Failure to comply with this rule will not subject the member to the penalties of Paragraph 19.

As mentioned, the Board spent considerable time on the important topic of lawyer well-being and will continue to monitor how it can further contribute. Over the course of the past year, MCLE staff have implemented methods to more efficiently utilize the Board’s regulations and opinions to evaluate courses, enabling the Board to focus more on larger programmatic and policy matters. The staff conscientiously provides institutional memory for the MCLE Board, even as members of the MCLE Board come and go over time and their recommendations are solicited and carefully weighed by the Board before every decision is made. Working collaboratively, the Board and MCLE staff members carry out the valuable function of the MCLE program.  Finally, the MCLE Board is grateful for the assistance of the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, Karen Gould, who faithfully attended our meetings and provided valuable guidance to the Board in its deliberations.

 

[1]Replaced Victoria N. Pearson who resigned effective November 29, 2018

Updated: Jul 03, 2019