RULE 5. Continuing Legal Education ("CLE")

(a)       CLE Credit.

(1)    Except as otherwise provided in this rule, every attorney required to register in accordance with these Rules shall complete 11 credit hours of approved CLE in each calendar year. At least one credit hour in each calendar year shall be primarily concerned with professionalism education. Qualifying professionalism education topics include professional responsibility, legal ethics, substance abuse and mental health issues, diversity awareness in the legal profession, and malpractice and bar complaint avoidance topics including law office and file management, client relations, and client trust account administration. If an attorney is subject to this rule for more than 3 months of a calendar year but for less than the entire year, the number of credits required for that year shall be prorated according to the number of full months of the year in which the attorney is subject to this rule. However, an attorney who has registered in emeritus attorney status is required to complete only seven credit hours of approved CLE in each calendar year, unless exempted from the requirements of CLE as provided by Rule 5(a)(5).

(2)     An attorney who completes more than 11 credit hours in a calendar year may carry forward up to 10 credit hours to satisfy the requirement of the following year, provided that the ethics or professionalism education requirement of Rule 5(a)(1) is satisfied for each calendar year.

(3)     The requirement of Rule 5(a)(1) may be met only by teaching (as provided in subsection (8)), attending courses or completing any CLE activity entitled to credit as provided in Rule 5(c) and (d); provided that no more than one half of the credit hours required in any reporting period may be earned through in-house courses, self-study, or a combination thereof.

(4)     An attorney subject to this rule who is a member of the bar of another jurisdiction which has a mandatory CLE requirement satisfies the requirement of Rule 5(a)(1) if the attorney is in compliance with a CLE requirement established by court rule or statute in that jurisdiction. If the other jurisdiction does not require the equivalent of one professionalism education credit hour per year, the attorney must complete one approved professionalism education credit hour in each calendar year. An attorney subject to this rule who is a member of the bar of another jurisdiction must meet the requirement of Rule 5(a)(1) if CLE is not mandated by court rule or statute in the other jurisdiction.

(5)     The following individuals otherwise subject to this rule are exempted from its requirements:

          (A)     attorneys in inactive status pursuant to Rule 4(e);

          (B)     full-time judges in any state or federal jurisdiction;

          (C)     full-time teachers in any law school approved by the American Bar Association;

          (D)     members of the armed forces of the United States who are on active duty outside of Maine;

          (E)     residents of another country unless they are practicing law in Maine;

          (F)     attorneys who have practiced 40 years or more, attained the age of 65 years, and are engaged in less than the full-time practice of law;

          (G)     legislators and members of Congress;

          (H)     attorneys serving as judicial law clerks; and

          (I)     emeritus attorneys.

In the discretion of the Board, any individual may be exempted from all or part of the requirements of this rule upon a showing of hardship or for other good cause pursuant to procedures to be established by the Board.

(6)     An attorney subject to this rule will be exempted from the requirements of Rule 5(a)(1) during the year in which the attorney is admitted to the Maine Bar and during the following calendar year, if during the year of admission the attorney completes the Maine State Bar Association Bridging the Gap program.

(7)     Except as provided in Rules 5(a)(8) and (9), credit is earned for the time of actual participation in an approved course or activity.

(8)     An attorney subject to this rule who makes a presentation in an approved course or activity not offered for academic credit by the sponsoring institution will earn two hours of CLE credit for every 30 minutes of actual presentation at the approved course or activity if the attorney has prepared substantial written materials as defined by the Board to accompany the presentation. If substantial written materials have not been prepared, the attorney will earn one hour of CLE credit for every 30 minutes of actual presentation. An attorney who teaches a regularly scheduled law-related course offered for academic credit at an accredited post secondary educational institution will earn six hours of CLE credit under this rule for every hour of academic credit awarded by the institution for the course. An attorney who assists or participates in such a regularly scheduled course will earn one hour of CLE credit for every hour of actual participation, up to a maximum of six hours.

(9)    An attorney subject to this rule who formally takes for credit or officially audits a regularly scheduled course offered for academic credit at a law school approved by the American Bar Association will earn four hours of CLE credit under this rule for every hour of academic credit awarded by the institution for the course, provided that the attorney attends at least 75% of the classes in the course and, if enrolled for academic credit, receives a passing grade.

(b)       Reporting CLE Credit.

(1)    An attorney subject to this rule shall, in connection with the filing of the registration documents required by Rule 4(a), submit an Annual Report to the Board providing the course title, date, location, sponsor, and number of credit hours of all courses or other activities taken for credit pursuant to Rule 5(a) during the preceding calendar year, or carried over from a prior year as provided in Rule 5(a)(2). If a reported course or other activity has not previously been approved in accordance with Rule 5(a), the attorney shall also submit the information required under section 5(c) to support a request for such approval. An attorney claiming exemption in accordance with Rules 5(a)(4) through 5(a)(6) shall state the ground of exemption in lieu of reporting the foregoing information.

(2)    The Board may at any time ask an attorney to provide documentation supporting any information reported in accordance with Rule 5(b)(1).

(c)       Courses and Other Activities Entitled to Credit.

(1)    The Board shall maintain a list of approved sponsors. All publicly available courses or other publicly available CLE activities offered by approved sponsors are deemed automatically approved and entitled to credit upon payment of the requisite fees in accordance with Rule 5(a).

(2)    All courses or other CLE activities sponsored or presented by any other individual or organization are entitled to credit for purposes of Rule 5(a) if the sponsor or the individual course or activity has been approved by the Board in accordance with Rule 5(a).

(3)    The Board shall delegate all approval and other functions under this rule to the Board staff. Upon request, the Board shall review any decisions denying approval of any sponsor, individual course, or other CLE activity. The Board's determination of any such issue shall be final.

(d)       Approval Procedure.

(1)    Sponsor Approval. A sponsor may be approved by the Board upon payment of the requisite fees and submission of evidence establishing to the satisfaction of the Board:

          (A)     that the sponsor has been approved or accredited by a CLE accrediting authority established by court rule or statute in another state; or

          (B)     that, during the immediately preceding three years, the sponsor has sponsored at least six separate courses that comply with the requirements for individual course approval under Rule 5(d)(2).

The Board may at any time review the status of a sponsor or specific courses offered by a sponsor and may revoke approval if the status has changed or the courses offered by the sponsor do not comply with the requirements of Rules 5(c) and (d). Requests for approval shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the Board, supplemented by such supporting documentation as would assist the Board in determining whether the sponsor meets the requirements of this rule.

(2)    * Course Approval*. The Board may approve individual courses for credit under this rule upon written application from a non-approved sponsor or the submission of supporting documentation from an approved sponsor, together with the requisite fee.

An attendee may file such a request together with the requisite fee at any time up to and including the filing of the Annual Report under Rule 5(b) for the year for which credit is sought for the course. The Board shall grant the request if the Board is satisfied that the course meets the following criteria:

          (A)     the course or activity must contribute directly to the professional competence or skills of attorneys, or to their education with respect to their professional or ethical obligations and, where possible, should include a professionalism education component; and

          (B)     course leaders or lecturers and the authors of written materials must be persons sufficiently competent to accomplish the educational goals of the course.

The Board may, prior to granting approval, request any approved sponsor, non-approved sponsor, or attendee to submit further information concerning a course, including the brochure describing the course, a description of the method or manner of presentation of course materials, a statement as to the actual date and place of presentation and the number of persons in attendance, and a copy of the course materials.

(3)    In-House and Self-Study CLE. Courses offered by law firms, either individually or jointly with other law firms, by corporate legal departments, or by similar entities employing attorneys, if such courses are provided primarily for the education of the sponsor's members or employees, and group or individual self-study courses involving the use of written materials, audio or video tapes, online, or other teaching methods and materials, may be approved for credit under Rule 5(d)(2) upon submission of evidence establishing to the satisfaction of the Board that:

          (a)     the course complies with the standards set forth in Rule 5(d)(2);

          (b)     experienced lawyers will contribute to the development or teaching of the course; and

          (c)     the course or self-study will be scheduled at a time and location that will be free of interruption.

The offering firm or other entity, an individual attendee, or any other individual seeking approval shall file information describing the course, activity or program, and a request for approval. Requests for approval shall be submitted using an application form approved by the Board, supplemented by such supporting information as would assist the Board in determining whether the course, activity or program meets the requirements of this rule. If a course or a program of self-study consists of listening to or watching the video replay of a previously presented CLE program, the Board shall allocate credit hours to the course in the same manner as for a live program. For other courses or self-study activities, the Board shall determine the amount of credit hours on the basis of program content and the duration of the activity.


Reporter’s Notes – June 2015

Rule 5 is based on former Maine Bar Rule 12. The equivalent ABA Model Rule for Continuing Legal Education was adopted in 1989 and last revised in 2004. The ABA Model Rule was used as the foundation for former Maine Bar Rule 12, which was adopted by the Court in 2001. Therefore, recognizing that Rule 12 worked well in Maine, the committee used Maine’s rule for its discussions.

In Rule 5(a), the committee recognized that the effective date of Maine’s continuing legal education requirement and the emeritus status requirement are no longer needed in the Rule. Consequently, the committee deleted those references. The term “disability” has been deleted, recognizing that disability requests would be fall under “hardship” requests. Lastly, the revised rule identifies the Maine State Bar Association as the organization that sponsors the annual Bridging the Gap program, which provides attendees with a two-year exemption to this rule. The revised rule omits reference to the “initial members of the Commission” because that language is no longer applicable.

Rule 5(b) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 12(b). The proposed rule is consistent with the current rule and Board practice.

Rule 5(c) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 12(e). The revised rule is consistent with the current rule and Board practice.

Rule 5(d) is based on former Maine Bar Rule 12(f). The revised rule is consistent with the current rule and Board practice.