NJ to require Continuing Legal Education for Attorneys

New Jersey will join 42 states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, and a number of overseas territories that require mandatory legal education. New Jersey’s Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will require mandatory continuing legal education for all plenary-licensed attorneys, starting next year.

Attorneys licensed to practice in New Jersey, including judges, law school professors and limited license in-house counsel, will have to take 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years.

A Board on Continuing Education will administer the MCLE programs and be made up of a maximum of 11 attorneys appointed by the court. Members will serve staggered, three-year terms.

Lawyers will have to earn four hours of ethics and professionalism credits during each two-year cycle. A range of verifiable formats — including audiotape, videotape, teleconferencing, video conferencing, satellite simulcast and Internet — will be permitted.

Attorneys will receive one-to-one credit for courses taken in other jurisdictions.

Attorneys may carry over 12 hours of credit from one cycle to the next.

Credits earned as of Jan. 1, 2009, may be applied forward.

The court agreed with the committee that attorneys participating in approved Inns of Court receive full credit for up to 24 hours of instruction, and that pro bono work can be counted after the initial program is implemented.

Attorneys will self-report at the end of the two-year cycle and that the board would establish a random-audit system to ensure compliance. If random audits show significant noncompliance, the court “shall take all steps necessary to ensure compliance,” including adoption of the committee’s model.

Source: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202434409037&thepage=1