Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board

Paula Steinhilber Beran, 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. In addition to the chair, members for fiscal year 2011 included Vice Chair Michael Lawrence Goodman of Richmond, Raymond B. Benzinger of Arlington, Timothy C. Carwile of Waynesboro, Craig Alexander Anthony Dixon of Smithfield, John Adrian Gibney of Richmond (until his resignation due to judicial appointment), Jacqueline May Ford of Richmond, Alan Stuart Goldberg of McLean, Leonard Claro Heath Jr. of Newport News, Helen Eckert Phillips of Grundy, Carole Yeatts Timberlake of Richmond, and Melinda Laverne VanLowe of McLean.

The board meets seven times per year at the VSB’s Richmond office. The VSB’s MCLE department provides daily administration of 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: 19,200 course approvals, 56 waiver and extension requests, and more than 110,000 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 at any time, saving time, money, and effort for both our members and the MCLE Department.

The MCLE Board determined that implementation of amended MCLE Regulations would be postponed until November 1, 2011. The new regulations recognize advantages of modern technology in continuing legal education while balancing the benefits of professional interaction. In so doing, the new requirements will require attorneys to attend a minimum of four credit hours via live interactive programs, which include presentations delivered through traditional live on-site programs, live telephone or live webcast programs, and any other programs that may be developed that include real-time live interactivity with the course presenter. The MCLE Board continues its evaluation of amendments to Opinion 16 on distance learning programs and Opinion 17 relating to law practice management programs, in order to provide more comprehensive information on the standards for approval of these types of CLE programs. Publication for comment and final approval of these amended opinions is planned for fiscal 2012.

I wish to welcome new members Afshin Farashahi of Virginia Beach, Lorrie A. Sinclair of Leesburg, Marie E. Washington of Warrenton, and G. William Watkins of Waynesboro as they join in 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: Jul 21, 2011