MCLE Opinions 4, 9 & 10




The board is without authority under the MCLE Rule to approve courses or portions of courses which were held before July 1, 1986. [Paragraph 17C of Section IV, Part Six, Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia and MCLE Regulation 101(1)].




The board will not approve for MCLE credit activity that essentially is law reform or other public interest work. Such work includes that done by such elected bodies as the General Assembly, work done by such appointed boards as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws or the Virginia Code Commission, and work done by such voluntary groups as the Virginia State Bar sections where law reform or need for redrafting or enacting new legislation is the topic. Work done by such groups either voluntarily or because of acceptance of an appointment, has educational value, as does many other kinds of work. Such work, however, is not the kind in continuing legal study contemplated, or CLE courses or programs required, by the MCLE Program established by the Virginia Supreme Court. [Paragraphs 17.C and 17.G of Section IV, Part Six, Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia and MCLE Regulations 101(g), and 103].




Regulation 103(b) and (c) require that courses to be approved must have "significant intellectual or practical content," a "primary objective" of increasing "professional competence and skills as an attorney" and "pertain to a recognized legal subject or other subject matter which integrally relates to the practice of law, or to the professional responsibility or ethical obligations of the participants." The board has encountered instances where it has received applications for course approval of subjects which are not law related, for example, courses involving engineering, accounting or construction to name a few. These course applications have been received by various sponsoring organizations as well as Virginia State Bar members who attended such courses and subsequently sought approval.

When such course applications are received from a sponsoring organization, the board has no alternative in determining whether the course is beneficial for practicing attorneys except to apply an objective standard. Consequently, the course will not be approved unless it obviously pertains to a recognized legal subject or to the practice of law. Likewise, credit for teaching will be given only where the course pertains to the practice of law. Additionally, where a Virginia State Bar member teaches at a course which does not objectively pertain to the practice of law, credit for teaching, see Regulation 102(d), will not be given. However, where an application for course approval is received from a Virginia State Bar member, and the course does not pertain to a recognized legal subject, the board will give great weight to the obvious subjective determination of the member that the subject matter enhances his professional responsibility. For example, the member may have a product liability case where an engineering course would be very helpful.

The board recognizes that application of its rules in this manner may create an inconsistency - a Virginia State Bar member receiving credit for attendance at a course for which the sponsoring organization failed to receive approval. It is felt, however, that this manner of approval ensures that course sponsors will structure their programs to fully enhance the practice of law, while individual members are allowed wide flexibility in attending for credit courses unique to their practice needs.


Updated: Jun 04, 2019