Continuing Legal Education for Attorneys FAQ

  1. What is the Commission on Continuing Legal Education’s purpose?
  2. Why is continuing legal education (CLE) required?
  3. Who must comply with the CLE requirement?
  4. How many CLE credit hours are required?
  5. When do the amendments to the continuing legal education rule for attorneys and judges go in effect?
  6. Will the amendments change the continuing legal education requirements for attorneys?
  7. Will the amendments change the manner in which attorneys are grouped according to last name?
  8. Does my compliance period change if my last name changes?
  9. I am an A-L attorney and I need to earn 24 hours by December 31, 2013. Will the January 1, 2014, amendments affect my obligations for the time period covering the years 2012 and 2013?
  10. I am an M-Z attorney who needs to earn 24 hours by December 31, 2014. How will the new amendments affect me?
  11. What other changes will go in effect with the January 1, 2014, amendments?
  12. How are CLE credit hours calculated?
  13. What is the Professional Conduct Requirement?
  14. What if I earn more credit hours than are required for the two-year reporting period?
  15. Are there lawyers who are exempt from the CLE requirements?
  16. I am newly admitted. What are my CLE requirements?
  17. I have been admitted to practice on Motion. What are my CLE requirements?
  18. I am a magistrate. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?
  19. I am an acting judge. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?
  20. What if I change my registration status from active to inactive?
  21. What if I change my registration status from inactive to active?
  22. What if I do not comply with my CLE requirements?
  23. If I find I am unable to complete my requirements prior to the Dec. 31 deadline, may I seek an extension of time?
  24. How do I find a list of approved CLE courses?
  25. Must my CLE credits be earned in Ohio?
  26. What is a CLE Sponsor?
  27. How does my organization apply for Established Sponsor status?
  28. How do I seek CLE approval for an activity being held in Ohio?
  29. My organization is going to present a CLE program outside the state. Must we apply for accreditation prior to the program?
  30. What if I wish to attend a CLE activity but the provider has not applied for approval?
  31. My firm is hosting a CLE activity. How is an in-house CLE program accredited?
  32. How will the Commission learn of my attendance at a CLE program?
  33. Does the Commission on Continuing Legal Education keep a record of my CLE activities?
  34. Should I keep a list of my CLE activities?
  35. How can I obtain a copy of my CLE record?
  36. What provisions are made for lawyers licensed in Ohio but who reside or work in another state or country?
  37. If I teach at an Approved CLE Activity, do I receive CLE credit for it?
  38. May I claim CLE credit for attending a law school class?
  39. May I claim CLE credit for teaching a law school class?
  40. May I claim CLE credit for attending the in-house CLE activities of my law firm?
  41. May I receive CLE credit for Publication?
  42. May I earn credit for engaging in pro bono legal services?
  43. How can I learn more about the CLE requirements?

DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to be a complete representation of the requirements of Rule X of the Rules Governing the Bar of the State of Ohio and the Regulations adopted under authority of this Rule or Rule IV of the Rules for the Government of the Judiciary of Ohio. For specific provision details refer to the complete text.

INTRODUCTION

1. What is the Commission on Continuing Legal Education’s purpose?

Effective July 1, 1988, the Supreme Court of Ohio created the Commission on Continuing Legal Education to administer the continuing legal education requirements of Rule X of the Rules Governing the Bar of the State of Ohio and the Regulations adopted under authority of the Rule, and Rule IV of the Rules for the Government of the Judiciary of Ohio.

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2. Why is continuing legal education (CLE) required?

The requirement for continuing legal education was established to ensure that, throughout their careers, lawyers admitted to practice in the State of Ohio remain current regarding the law and maintain the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to fulfill their professional responsibilities.

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3. Who must comply with the CLE requirement?

Each attorney admitted to the practice of law in Ohio or registered for corporate status must comply. You must complete a program of continuing legal education as provided by Rule X. There are no exemptions from CLE requirements except in some limited instances as described in Gov. Bar R. X. See Question 15 for additional information regarding exemptions.

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4. How many CLE credit hours are required?

You must complete at least twenty-four credit hours of approved continuing legal education for each two-year compliance period, including two and one-half hours of instruction in professional conduct.

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JANUARY 1, 2014 AMENDMENTS

5. When do the amendments to the continuing legal education rule for attorneys and judges go in effect?

The amendments were adopted by the Supreme Court on October 23, 2012, and will go in effect January 1, 2014.

Note: The amendments will first apply to attorneys and judges whose last name begins with a letter M through Z and whose compliance period ends December 31, 2014.  See chart for an overview of how the amendments will apply to A through L and M through Z attorneys.

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6. Will the amendments change the continuing legal education requirements for attorneys?

Yes, the new amendments include changes to attorney continuing legal education requirements, including:

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7. Will the amendments change the manner in which attorneys are grouped according to last name?

No.  All Ohio lawyers have been permanently assigned to one of two groups based on the first letter of their last name.

If your last name begins with a letter from A through L you must complete your educational requirements on or before December 31 of each odd-numbered year.

If your last name begins with a letter from M through Z you must complete your educational requirements on or before December 31 of each even-numbered year.

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8. Does my compliance period change if my last name changes?

No. If an attorney's name changes after the attorney is admitted to the practice of law or registers for corporate status, the attorney remains in the same alphabetical grouping for all future reporting purposes.

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9. I am an A-L attorney and I need to earn 24 hours by December 31, 2013. Will the January 1, 2014, amendments affect my obligations for the time period covering the years 2012 and 2013?

No.  During the 2012/2013 compliance period, A through L attorneys still will be required to comply with the current education rule.  This means that you will be required to earn on or before December 31, 2013, twenty-four hours of continuing legal education, including one hour of ethics instruction, one hour of professionalism instruction, and one-half hour of substance abuse instruction.  You will also be required to submit your final reporting transcript on or before January 31, 2014.

Beginning with the 2014/2015 compliance period, A through L attorneys will be required to comply with the new amendments for the two-year period ending on or before December 31, 2015.  Under the new amendments, A through L attorneys will be required to earn twenty-four hours of continuing legal education, including two and one-half hours of “professional conduct” instruction.

See chart for a summary of the continuing legal education requirements for attorneys.

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10. I am an M-Z attorney who needs to earn 24 hours by December 31, 2014. How will the new amendments affect me?

M through Z attorneys are in the first group of attorneys who will be required to comply with the new requirements.  As an M through Z attorney, you will be required to earn on or before December 31, 2014, twenty-four hours of continuing legal education, including two and one-half hours of “professional conduct” instruction.  Ethics, professionalism, and substance abuse hours that you take in 2013 will count toward your “professional conduct” requirement.

You will not be required to file a final reporting transcript at the end of the biennial period.

See chart for a summary of the continuing legal education requirements for attorneys.

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11. What other changes will go in effect with the January 1, 2014, amendments?

Some of the other changes include:

Review the entire amended rule.

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EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

12. How are CLE credit hours calculated?

Sixty minutes of actual instruction or other approved activity equal one credit hour. No CLE credit is given for breaks, opening or closing remarks, keynote speeches, meals, and presentations concurrent with the consumption of a meal. Partial hours are rounded to the nearest one quarter of an hour, provided the attorney has earned a minimum of one credit hour.

Beginning January 1, 2014, credit may be earned for education during which a meal is consumed.

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13. What is the Professional Conduct Requirement?

Currently, an attorney must complete, as part of the minimum twenty-four hour requirement, two and one-half hours of instruction related to professional conduct, which includes all of the following:

  1. Thirty minutes of instruction on substance abuse, including causes, prevention, detection, and treatment alternatives;
  2. Sixty minutes of instruction related to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct;
  3. Sixty minutes of instruction related to professionalism (including A Lawyer’s Creed and A Lawyer’s Aspirational Ideals adopted by the Supreme Court).

Beginning January 1, 2014, attorneys will still be required to earn two and one-half hours of “professional conduct” instruction during each biennial compliance period.  However, attorneys will no longer be required to earn a specific number of hours in ethics, professionalism, and substance abuse.  Instead, attorneys may fulfill the professional conduct requirement by choosing from a range of courses that have been approved as meeting the “professional conduct” requirement.  These courses may include instruction on legal ethics, professionalism, mental health or substance abuse issues, access to justice and fairness in the courts, interacting with self-represented litigants, and pro bono representation.  For a description of the types of courses that will meet the professional conduct requirement, see Gov. Bar R. X, Sec. 3(B), eff. Jan. 1, 2014.

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14. What if I earn more credit hours than are required for the two-year reporting period?

Attorneys who complete more than the required number of credit hours in a reporting period may apply a maximum of twelve credit hours to the next reporting period, provided they have timely completed and timely reported more than the required number of credit hours in a compliance period.

Judges who complete more than the required number of credit hours in a reporting period may apply a maximum of twenty credit hours to the next reporting period, provided they have timely completed and timely reported more than the required number of credit hours in a compliance period.

Excess CLE hours are carried over to the next biennial period as general hours.

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15. Are there lawyers who are exempt from the CLE requirements?

Yes.  Some attorneys are automatically exempted from the CLE requirements based on their employment status or registration status.  Other attorneys are exempted only upon approval by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Automatic Exemptions.

The following attorneys are automatically exempted from the CLE requirements while in office: (1) United States judges appointed to office for life pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution; (2) United States bankruptcy judges; and (3) United States magistrate judges.

Attorneys registered as inactive pursuant to Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 2, or as retired pursuant to Gov. Bar R. VI, former Section 3, are also exempt from the CLE requirements.

Attorneys certified to practice law temporarily pursuant to Gov. Bar R. IX, foreign legal consultants registered pursuant to Gov. Bar R. XI, and attorneys registered for pro hac vice pursuant to Gov. Bar R. XII are exempt from the CLE requirements.

Granted Exemptions.

Exemptions from the Educational Requirement:  The following attorneys may seek and be granted an exemption from the educational requirements:

Permission to Meet CLE Requirements Through a Substitute Program of Learning.

Exemption applications must be filed within a reasonable time after the basis for the exemption arises.  Exemption request forms are available at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/CLE/forms/default.asp.

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16. I am newly admitted. What are my CLE requirements?

Attorneys admitted to the practice of law by examination as well as attorneys initially registered for corporate status under Gov. Bar R. VI, Sec. 3, are required to complete twelve hours of New Lawyers Training instruction during their first biennial reporting period. Three of the twelve new lawyers training hours must include one hour each of instruction in professionalism, law office management, and client fund management. Attorneys may meet their new lawyers training hour requirements by taking individual courses of their choosing.

Newly-admitted attorneys may also fulfill some of their new lawyers training requirements by participating in the Supreme Court’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program, which is administered by the Commission on Professionalism.

For more information related to your obligations and options as a new attorney, please go to http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/CLE/nlt/FAQ.asp.

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17. I have been admitted to practice on Motion. What are my CLE requirements?

Attorneys admitted on motion are not required to comply with New Lawyers Training requirements, but are required to comply with the general continuing legal education requirements of Gov. Bar R. X (i.e., twenty-four hours every two years).  A motion attorney's hour requirements may be prorated pursuant to CLE Regulation 305.  To review your specific requirements as a newly-admitted motion attorney, you should view your transcript online at https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/ASW.

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18. I am a magistrate. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?

A magistrate appointed pursuant to Rule 53 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 40 of the Ohio Rules of Juvenile Procedure, Rule 14 of the Ohio Traffic Rules, or Rule 19 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure must complete at least ten hours of Judicial College credit as part of his or her continuing legal education requirements.

The actual number of Judicial College hours you are required to take is based on the date of your appointment and your status at the end of the biennium.

Magistrates also must register annually with the Secretary of the Commission on a form provided by the Office of Attorney Services. Upon your appointment as a magistrate, you should complete the Magistrate Registration form, available at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/cle/forms/default.asp, and submit it to the Commission promptly.  Thereafter, you must file the Magistrate Registration form annually by April 1.

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19. I am an acting judge. What are my CLE and Judicial College requirements?

An acting judge appointed pursuant to Sections 1901.10, 1901.12, or 1907.14 of the Revised Code must complete at least ten hours of Judicial College credit as part of his or her continuing legal education requirements.

The actual number of Judicial College hours you are required to take is based on the date of your appointment and your status at the end of the biennium.

Acting judges also must register annually with the Secretary of the Commission on a form provided by the Office of Attorney Services. Upon your appointment as acting judge, you should complete the Acting Judge Registration form, available at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/cle/forms/default.asp, and submit it to the Commission promptly. Thereafter, you must submit the Acting Judge Registration form annually by April 1.

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20. What if I change my registration status from active to inactive?

Lawyers registered inactive pursuant to Gov. Bar R. VI, Section 2, are not required to comply with CLE requirements.

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21. What if I change my registration status from inactive to active?

Upon returning to active status, an attorney will be required to comply with the continuing legal education requirements of Gov. Bar R. X.  To verify the number of hours you will need to take upon your return to active status and the deadline by which the hours must be earned, you should view your online transcript available at https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/ASW.

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22. What if I do not comply with my CLE requirements?

Attorneys or judges who fail to comply with the continuing legal education or continuing judicial education rules and regulations will be subject to late fees, monetary sanctions, and suspension from the practice of law.

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23. If I find I am unable to complete my requirements prior to the Dec. 31 deadline, may I seek an extension of time?

There are no extensions of time to complete your CLE requirements. However, if you are deficient in your CLE hours, you will be notified as to how you may cure your deficiencies.  Please remember, however, that failure to meet the hour requirements and deadlines will subject you to monetary penalty and suspension from the practice of law.

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COURSE ACCREDITATION

24. How do I find a list of approved CLE courses?

Upcoming approved CLE courses are posted on the Commission’s website (www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/CLE/ActivitySearch).  You may search for live, self-study, and new lawyers training activities by date, location, or sponsor.

Remember that CLE activities held in Ohio must be submitted for accreditation prior to the program.  If you do not find an activity you wish to attend on our approved activities list, please contact the sponsor of the activity to determine whether it will seek accreditation from the Commission.

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25. Must my CLE credits be earned in Ohio?

No. The key factor is whether the program or activity is submitted to the Ohio Commission on Continuing Legal Education for accreditation and is approved for CLE credit. You may apply for Commission approval of a live (i.e., not self-study) course presented outside of Ohio on forms that can be downloaded from the Court's Web site: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/CLE/forms/default.asp.

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26. What is a CLE Sponsor?

A Sponsor is a person or organization that holds, or “sponsors,” a CLE activity. An Established Sponsor is a person or organization whose entire continuing legal education program has been accredited by the Commission pursuant to CLE Regulation 404. To become an Established Sponsor, a person or organization must meet the requirements set forth in CLE Regulation 404. ABA accredited law schools are also deemed to be Established Sponsors.

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27. How does my organization apply for Established Sponsor status?

Your organization must meet the requirements outlined in the CLE Regulations and complete the Established Sponsor form (www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/attysvcs/CLE/forms/default.asp). Established Sponsors pay an annual $400 fee.

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28. How do I seek CLE approval for an activity being held in Ohio?

Please complete a Form 6, Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity, and return it to our office with the required attachments. Your application must be received at least sixty days in advance of the date of the program or activity. All applications must be accompanied by a nonrefundable $25 application fee, in the form of a check or money order, made payable to Supreme Court of Ohio. Incomplete applications and applications submitted without the fee will be returned unprocessed.

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29. My organization is going to present a live (i.e., not self-study) CLE program outside the state. Must we apply for accreditation prior to the program?

No. You may apply for CLE accreditation of live programs before or after a program occurring outside Ohio. To apply, you would complete Form 6, Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity, and return it to our office with the required attachments.

If you are expecting a large number of Ohio attorneys to attend, we strongly encourage you to submit your application at least sixty days in advance of the date of the program to insure sufficient time for us to review your application and provide you with a decision as to whether the activity has been approved.

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30. What if I wish to attend a CLE activity but the provider has not applied for approval?

If the program or activity takes place outside Ohio, you may apply, as an individual, to have the program accredited. You should complete Form 6, Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity, and return it to our office within sixty days after the program.

Note, however, that if the program or activity occurs in Ohio, the sponsor must apply for accreditation at least sixty days prior to the program.

Also note that individual attorneys may NOT apply for accreditation of self-study programs. Only sponsors of self-study programs may seek accreditation from the Commission.

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31. My firm is hosting a CLE activity. How is an in-house CLE program accredited?

In-house CLE programs must meet the requirements of Gov. Bar R. X and CLE Regulation 406 and CLE Regulation 407. Your firm must complete Form 8, Application for Accreditation of a Special Program or Activity for Continuing Legal Education, and return it to our office with the required attachments. Applications for accreditation of a Special Program must be received at least sixty days in advance of the date of the program and, if the program will be held in Ohio, accompanied by a $25 application fee. The fee should be submitted in the form of a check or money order, made payable to Supreme Court of Ohio. Incomplete applications or applications submitted without the fee will be returned unprocessed.

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RECORD KEEPING

32. How will the Commission learn of my attendance at a CLE program?

Sponsors who have received pre-approval of an activity for CLE credit are required to notify the Commission of your attendance within thirty days after the CLE program or activity.

If you are submitting an application for accreditation of a live (i.e., not self-study), you should enclose a photocopy of your attendance certificate along with a completed Form 6, Uniform Application for Accreditation of Continuing Legal Education Activity, and a completed Form 1(a), Request for CLE Credit for Attendance at a CLE Activity Outside Ohio.

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33. Does the Commission on Continuing Legal Education keep a record of my CLE activities?

Yes. But remember our records will only reflect attendance credits that have been submitted to us by a sponsor. Consequently, if a sponsor does not report your attendance, it is your responsibility to report your hours to us by (1) completing and submitting a Form 1(a); (2) adding the information on your Interim or Final Reporting Transcript; or (3) adding the credit information online at https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/asw.

Beginning January 1, 2014, the Commission will no longer mail Interim or Final transcripts.  However, you may still add credits to your CLE record by completing and submitting a Form 1(a) or adding the credit online at https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/asw.

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34. Should I keep a list of my CLE activities?

Yes. You should maintain records to demonstrate compliance with CLE requirements in the event of an error.

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35. How can I obtain a copy of my CLE record?

You will receive an Interim Report in August of the second year in your biennial reporting period.

Sixty days prior to the filing deadline for your biennial report, the Commission will send your Final Reporting Transcript. It is your responsibility to review the transcript promptly and inform the Commission if any of the information contained in your CLE record is inaccurate or if information which should be contained in the record is missing. You must return your Final Reporting Transcript to the Commission by Jan. 31.

Beginning January 1, 2014, the Commission will no longer mail Interim Reporting Transcripts or Final Reporting Transcripts.  However, attorneys may view their transcripts online at https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/ASW.  Current and past biennial transcripts are also available online.

To receive a certified copy of your CLE record, please send a written request containing your registration number, beginning and ending calendar dates, and a check or money order for $5 made payable to Supreme Court of Ohio.

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OUT-OF-STATE ATTORNEYS

36. What provisions are made for lawyers licensed in Ohio but who reside or work in another state or country?

There are no special provisions for attorneys living or working outside Ohio. If you are registered for active or corporate status, you must comply with the requirements of Gov. Bar R. X.

You may apply for accreditation for the live (i.e., not self-study) CLE programs you attend in other states.  Please note, however, that courses approved for CLE credit in other states are not necessarily eligible for CLE accreditation in Ohio. To confirm accreditation in Ohio, please check with the sponsor of the programs you wish to attend.

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AWARD OF CLE CREDIT

37. If I teach at an Approved CLE Activity, do I receive CLE credit for it?

Yes. You may receive three hours of CLE credit for each hour taught at an approved CLE activity for your initial presentation and one hour of CLE credit for each hour taught for subsequent presentations of the same material. If it is a panel presentation, your total teaching time will be divided by the number of panelists. You may earn a maximum of one-half the required hours of CLE credit for such teaching during a biennial period. Teaching credit may be requested by completing a Form 2, Request for Credit for Teaching at an Approved CLE Activity, within thirty days of the program or activity.

Beginning January 1, 2014, panel participants will no longer have their teaching credits divided by the number of persons participating on the panel.  Instead, panel participants will earn two hours of CLE credit for each hour taught at an approved CLE activity for the initial panel presentation and one hour of CLE credit for each hour taught for subsequent panel presentations of the same material.

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38. May I claim CLE credit for attending a law school class?

Yes. You may receive three hours of CLE credit for each semester hour of a course completed at an ABA-accredited law school. Pro-rata credit will be granted for quarter or trimester hours. Law school attendance credit may be requested by completing a Form 4, Request for Credit for Law School Attendance, within thirty days after the last day of the course.

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39. May I claim CLE credit for teaching a law school class?

Yes. You may receive one-half hour of CLE credit for each semester hour taught at an ABA-accredited law school. Pro-rata credit will be granted for quarter or trimester hours. Law school teaching credit may be requested by completing a Form 3, Request for Credit for Law School Instruction, within thirty days after the last day of the course.

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40. May I claim CLE credit for attending the in-house CLE activities of my law firm?

Yes, provided the program or activity meets the requirements of Gov. Bar R. X and CLE Regulation 407.

Attorneys may earn no more than twelve hours of in-house continuing legal education credit every biennium.

Beginning January 1, 2014, public service attorneys, such as, county prosecutors and public defenders attending in-house skills-based programs may be eligible to earn up to twenty-four hours of CLE credit during the biennium for attendance at such programs.

Also beginning January 1, 2014, special programs sponsored by the Department of Justice, Office of Legal Education, and the Federal Public Defender will not be required to meet the requirements of Regulations 407.1(C), 407.1(D), and 407.1(F).  Further, attorneys attending special programs sponsored by the Department of Justice, Office of Legal Education, and the Federal Public Defender may obtain up to twenty-four hours of CLE credit during the biennium for attendance at such programs.

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41. May I receive CLE credit for Publication?

Yes. You may receive up to ten hours of CLE credit per biennial compliance period for the publication of articles or books authored or prepared by you. Publication credit may be requested by completing a Form 5, Request for CLE Credit for Publication, within ninety days of publication, or by the end of your compliance period, whichever is later. Credit is awarded for the year in which the article or book is published.

To be eligible for CLE credit, the article or book must concern matters directly related to the practice of law, judicial administration, professional conduct, ethical obligations, law office economics, or other subjects that will maintain and improve the quality of legal services in Ohio.  The publication should also be intended primarily for reading or use by an attorney or judge.

Credit will not be awarded for self-published materials or blogs.  The publication must be published and be of substantial or scholarly quality.

Beginning January 1, 2014, you may receive up to twelve hours of CLE credit per compliance period for publication of legal articles or books.

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42. May I earn credit for engaging in pro bono legal services?

Currently, attorneys are not able to earn credit for pro bono legal services.

However, beginning January 1, 2014, one hour of continuing legal education credit may be awarded for every six hours of pro bono legal service performed, with a maximum of six credit hours for service performed during a biennial compliance period.

“Pro bono” is defined as legal service provided to either a person of limited means or a charitable organization in which the legal service is assigned, verified, and reported to the CLE Commission by any of the following:

Only pro bono legal service performed on or after January 1, 2014, may be eligible for continuing legal education credit.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

43. How can I learn more about the CLE requirements?

You may access the Court's Web site at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov to download a copy of Rule X and CLE Regulations. If you have additional questions, please contact us at ccle@sc.ohio.gov or at 614/387-9325, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m.

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