12. Continuing Legal Education
(a) Continuing Legal Education Requirement.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, every attorney required to register in accordance with these rules of this state shall complete 11 credit hours of approved continuing legal education in each calendar year beginning January 1, 2001. 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 continuing legal education in each calendar year beginning January 1, 2005, unless exempted from the requirements of continuing legal education as provided by Maine Bar Rule 12(a)(5)(F).
(2) An attorney who completes more than 11 credit hours in a calendar year may carry forward up to 10 such additional hours to satisfy the requirement of the following year, provided that the ethics or professional responsibility requirement of paragraph (1) of this subdivision is satisfied for each calendar year.
(3) The requirement of paragraph (1) of this subdivision may be met only by teaching (as provided in subsection (8)), attending courses or completing any continuing legal education activity entitled to credit as provided in subdivisions (d) and (e) of this rule; provided that no more than one half of the credit hours required in any reporting period may be earned through in-office courses, self-study, or a combination thereof.
(4) An attorney subject to this rule who is a member of the bar of another state which has a mandatory CLE requirement, and who is regularly engaged in the practice of law in that state, satisfies the requirement of paragraph (1) of this subdivision if the attorney is in compliance with a continuing legal education requirement established by court rule or statute in that state. If the other state does not require the equivalent of at least one credit hour per year in ethics or professional responsibility, the attorney must complete at least one approved credit hour in ethics or professional responsibility in each calendar year. An attorney subject to this rule who is a member of the bar of another state must meet the requirement of paragraph (1) of this subdivision if continuing legal education is not mandated by court rule or statute in the other state.
(5) The following individuals otherwise subject to this rule are exempted from its requirements:
(A) Attorneys in inactive status pursuant to Rule 6(c);
(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 the State 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) 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, disability or for other good cause.
(H) Legislators and members of Congress.
(I) Attorneys serving as judicial law clerks.
(6) An attorney subject to this rule will be exempted from the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subdivision during the year in which the attorney is admitted to the bar of this state and during the following calendar year, if during the year of admission the attorney completes the Bridging the Gap program or other practical skills course approved as provided in subdivisions (d) and (e) of this rule.
(7) Except as provided in paragraphs (8) and (9) of this subdivision, 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 credit hours for every 30 minutes of actual presentation if the attorney has prepared substantial written materials to accompany the presentation. If substantial written materials have not been prepared, the attorney will earn one credit hour 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 credit hours 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 credit hour 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 credit hours 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 Continuing Legal Education Credit.
(1) An attorney subject to this rule shall annually in connection with the filing of the registration statement required by Rule 6(a), sign and submit the 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 subdivision (a) of this rule during the preceding calendar year, or carried over from a prior year as provided in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a). If a reported course or other activity has not previously been approved in accordance with subdivisions (d) and (e) of this rule, the attorney shall also submit the information required under subdivision (e) to support a request for such approval. An attorney claiming exemption in accordance with paragraphs (4)-(6) of subdivision (a) of this rule 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 paragraph (1) of this subdivision.
(c) Sanctions and Appeal.
Any attorney subject to the requirements of this rule who fails to sign and submit the Annual Report Statement demonstrating compliance with, or exemption from, those requirements by August 31 is automatically suspended. Notice of the suspension shall be given by the Board by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested addressed to the office or home address last known to the Board. Such suspension for failure to comply with this rule shall not be effective until thirty (30) days after the date of mailing the notice thereof. The failure to file shall not be considered a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility per se, and the suspension for failure to file shall not constitute the imposition of discipline. An attorney who, after the date of the mailing of such notice of suspension but before the effective date of such suspension, reports compliance with this rule, takes steps satisfactory to the Board to meet the requirements of the rule for the year in question or applies for a waiver on the basis of hardship, disability or for other good cause shall not be suspended for failure to comply with this rule; otherwise the attorney shall be subject to Maine Bar Rules 7.3(i)(2) and (j). An attorney aggrieved as a result of a suspension under this paragraph may apply to the Board Chair for summary relief for good cause shown.
(d) Reinstatement Fees.
An attorney suspended under provisions of subdivision (c) of this rule shall, prior to reinstatement, demonstrate compliance with or exception from the requirements of M. Bar R. 12. The suspended attorney shall pay, in addition to the $25.00 late fee imposed by Rule 6(a)(1), a reinstatement fee of $125.00 unless excused from such reinstatement fee by the Board as a result of its determination that to impose the fee would result in a grave injustice under the circumstances. An attorney who has been suspended within the previous five (5) years for non-compliance with M. Bar R. 12, shall be assessed an additional $50.00 reinstatement fee.
(e) Courses and Other Activities Entitled to Credit.
(1) All publicly available courses or other publicly available continuing legal education activities offered by the following sponsors are deemed automatically approved and entitled to credit upon payment of the requisite fees for purposes of subdivision (a) of this rule: any national, state or county bar association, American Trial Lawyers' Association; Maine Prosecutors' Association; Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Maine Trial Lawyers Association; Maine or American Civil Liberties Union; National Association of Attorneys General; National Legal Aid and Defenders' Association; Practicing Law Institute; Probate Judges Assembly; governmental units or agencies; public bar admission, bar registration or discipline, continuing legal education, or similar agencies created by court rule or statute in any state; law schools approved by the American Bar Association; providers affiliated with such an association, agency, or law school; or other organizations approved by the Board.
(2) All courses or other continuing legal education activities sponsored or presented by any other individual or organization are entitled to credit for purposes of subdivision (a) of this rule if the sponsor or the individual course or activity has been approved by the Board in accordance with subdivision (e) of this rule.
(3) The Board may delegate all approval and other functions under this subdivision and subdivision (e) of this rule to Bar Counsel. The Board shall, by regulation, provide for Board review of any decision of Bar Counsel denying approval of any sponsor, individual course, or other continuing legal education activity. The Board's determination of any such issue shall be final.
(f) 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 continuing legal education 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 paragraph (2) of this subdivision.
Approval granted pursuant to this paragraph must be renewed every three years by submission of the evidence required in subparagraph (A) or (B). The Board may at any time review the status of a sponsor approved under subparagraph (A) or specific courses offered by a sponsor approved under subparagraph (B) and may revoke approval if the status has changed or the courses offered by the sponsor do not comply with the requirements of paragraph (2) of this subdivision. Requests for approval may be submitted using the Application form contained in the Appendix to these Rules, supplemented by such supporting information as would assist the Board in determining whether the sponsor meets the requirements of this Rule.
(2) Individual Course Approval. The Board may approve individual courses for credit under subdivision (a) of 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 approved sponsor or a non-approved sponsor that seeks approval of a course must file a request for approval accompanied by a full description of the course with the Board at least 30 days before the course is to be presented.
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 subdivision (b) of this rule 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 an ethics or professional responsibility component.
(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-office and Self-study Continuing Legal Education. Courses offered by law firms, either individually or jointly with other law firms, by corporate legal departments, or by similar entities which employ 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, computers, or other teaching methods and materials may be approved for credit under subdivision (a) of this rule upon submission of evidence establishing to the satisfaction of the Board that:
(A) The course complies with the standards set forth in paragraph (2) of this subdivision;
(B) Experienced lawyers will contribute to the development or teaching of the course;
(C) The course or self-study will be scheduled at a time and location that will be free of interruption.
Information describing the course, activity or program and a request for approval shall be filed by the offering firm or other entity, by an individual attendee or by any other individual seeking approval within the time limits provided in paragraph (2) of this subdivision. Requests for approval may be submitted using the Application form contained in the Appendix to these Rules, 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 electronic replay of a previously presented continuing legal education 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 likely duration of the activity.