To maintain public confidence in the legal profession and the rule of law, and to promote the fair administration of justice, attorneys must be competent regarding the law, legal and practice-oriented skills, the standards and ethical obligations of the legal profession, and the management of their practices. The purpose of minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements is to promote and sustain competence and professionalism and to ensure that attorneys remain current on the law, law practice management, and technology in our rapidly changing society. These rules establish minimum requirements for continuing legal education, accreditation criteria, and compliance procedures.
Advisory Note - May 2020
Rule 5(c)(4) is added to provide the Board's CLE Committee the authority, for good cause shown based on an attorney's specific circumstances, to waive the in-person attendance requirement for education on the recognition and avoidance or harassment and discrimination.
In cases of financial hardship, an attorney may request that the Board waive the license fee obligation provided for in Maine Bar Rule 4 by submitting a written request, in the form of a sworn affidavit, to the Executive Director. The affidavit shall contain a full explanation of the circumstances necessitating such a waiver. Upon review of the affidavit and any supporting documents, the Executive Director may grant a license fee waiver. If the Executive Director denies the waiver, the attorney shall have 30 days from the date of denial to submit a request to the Executive Director for reconsideration by the Board at its next scheduled meeting. Waivers may be granted only for one licensing period at a time and shall be granted sparingly.
Upon a showing of undue hardship, the Executive Director may grant an attorney an exemption from complying with all or part of the requirements of Rule 5 of the Maine Bar Rules. An attorney seeking such an exemption must submit a written request, in the form of a sworn affidavit, to the Executive Director. The affidavit shall contain a full explanation of the circumstances necessitating the CLE exemption. In cases where an attorney alleges medical or other disability, the attorney must also submit a statement from their medical provider. Upon review of the affidavit and any supporting documents, the Executive Director may grant or modify the attorney's continuing legal education requirement. If the Executive Director denies the exemption request, the attorney shall have 30 days from the date of denial to submit a request to the Executive Director for reconsideration by the Board at its next scheduled meeting. Exemptions may be granted only for one licensing period at a time and shall be granted sparingly.
Structured educational activities presented as part of a meeting or "brown-bag lunch" offered by a state, county, or municipal bar association will automatically be eligible for thirty (30) minutes of CLE credit for each attorney who completes the session. The Board may grant additional credit upon receipt of a completed application form with attachments from the sponsoring entity.
Attorneys may be awarded up to three (3) hours of ethics credit each calendar year for documented participation as volunteer members of commissions and committees which are appointed by the Court or the Board or that serve the Court and the profession at the state or national level and are primarily concerned with ethics or professional responsibility. Credits under this rule may also be awarded to attorneys appointed by the Court to monitor the practice of another attorney.
All self-study materials must be current (released within the past two years) to qualify for self-study credit.
The Board shall retain Annual Report Statements, course approvals, certificates of attendance, and attendance rosters for a minimum of two years. At the end of the retention period, these documents will be disposed of in a confidential manner.
The composition and submission of law related articles for publication will not be automatically approved for CLE credit. Authors requesting such credit must submit a copy of the published article for evaluation by the Board. Approved CLE credits will be applied toward the self-study portion of the attorney's annual CLE obligation.
CLE Credits earned through academic teaching under Maine Bar Rule 5(f)(5) shall be general credits. Ethics credits may be earned for academic teaching only for graduate level courses where the overall subject of the course is legal ethics.