MCLE Opinion 20

MCLE Opinion 20 - Interpretive Guidance for Courses Approved under Va. Supreme Court Rule 1A:1(b)(3)

The Supreme Court of Virginia has required through amended Rule of Court 1A:1(b)(3), effective February 1, 2014, that applicants filing to be admitted to practice in Virginia without examination must "[c]ertify in writing that the applicant has completed 12 hours of instruction approved by the Virginia Continuing Legal Education Board on Virginia substantive and/or procedural law within the preceding six-month period…."  For the purpose of this opinion these specialized courses shall be referred to as the “Rule 1A:1Reciprocity Course.”

The Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board (the “Board”) has determined that the 12 hours of instruction for Rule 1A:1 Reciprocity Courses shall address specific legal principles and concepts unique to Virginia in the following areas of substantive and procedural law:  agency; business organizations; civil and criminal procedure (including appellate practice); conflict of laws; contracts; creditor's rights; criminal law; domestic relations; equity; evidence; local government law; real and personal property; sales; torts;  trusts, wills and estate administration; the Uniform Commercial Code; Virginia constitutional law; and Virginia taxation.[1]    Other laws, such as federal law, may be addressed only to the extent of addressing how such laws interplay with Virginia law and are relevant to the practice of law in Virginia. The 12 hours of instruction shall be offered as a single course.

The purpose of the 12 hours of instruction on these areas of Virginia law is to provide the attorneys waiving into Virginia under Rule 1A:1 a basic understanding of unique aspects of Virginia law in these areas and access to high quality written materials on these topics.  Materials provided should be sufficient to assist the attendee when questions regarding the particular subject matter covered are raised at a later date and to serve as a general resource after course completion.  The materials should include citations to specific state law and reference materials so that attendee can later obtain more specific information on the topic.

Course sponsors may apply for approval to present a Rule 1A:1 Reciprocity Course on a specific form created for this purpose.  An agenda and all written materials must be submitted for review before the course will be approved. 

The course may be offered by live or distance learning methods where the presenter and the attendee are not simultaneously engaged in the course at the same time.  The program sponsor must clearly specify during its registration process when the last substantive revision of the course was made. Courses may not be approved for more than three (3) years after the date the course was originally recorded, except those courses determined by the Board to be substantively current.  The materials must be accessible to the registrants for a minimum of six months after taking the course.

Rule 1A:1 Reciprocity Courses are a specialized subgroup of regular MCLE courses.  Any licensed Virginia attorney may receive credit for attendance or teaching at these courses.  However, those attorneys applying to practice in Virginia pursuant to Rule of Court 1A:1 can only satisfy the requirements of Rule 1A:1(b)(3) by attending a Rule 1A:1 Reciprocity Course and will not receive MCLE credit for attendance pursuant to MCLE regulation 102 (f). 

This opinion does not override or contradict any other opinion or regulation. 


Approved 3/6/2014



[1] Professional responsibility is not included as a topic because lawyers admitted under Va. Sup. Ct. Rule 1A:1 are required to certify that they have read the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct.  In addition, they are required to attend the VSB's Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course.

Updated: Mar 21, 2014