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Board wants to expand CLE possibilities for lawyers

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//November 17, 2016//

Board wants to expand CLE possibilities for lawyers

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//November 17, 2016//

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The Board of Bar Examiners is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to expand lawyers’ options for fulfilling their continuing legal-education requirements.

The BBE is an 11-member board appointed by the high court to admit lawyers to practice in Wisconsin and ensure lawyers fulfill their continuing-education requirements.

For lawyers to remain licensed to practice in Wisconsin, they must obtain at least 30 hours of continuing legal-education credits every two years. A minimum of three of those credits must relate to legal ethics and professional responsibility.

Lawyers are only allowed to take online courses for 10 of the required credits. Those courses may not be related to professional responsibility and ethics. Lawyers also cannot use those on-demand courses for reinstatement, reactivation or readmission.

Under the new rules proposed by the BBE, up to 15 hours of online continuing legal-education courses may count toward the total number of credits required each reporting period. Also, the rules would let no more than 50 percent of online continuing legal-education credits count toward reinstatement, activation or readmission.

The BBE is also proposing that lawyers be allowed to take up to six hours of continuing legal-education courses that relate to practice management such as client communications, trust accounting and other topics. However, courses related to marketing and increasing profit would not count.

The BBE’s proposal also calls for letting attorneys take up to six hours of continuing legal-education courses meant to improve a lawyer’s understanding of stress management, work-life balance and how the practice of law can be affected by substance abuse and mental illness.

The proposal would also include a provision noting that lawyers will not be able to get credit for taking the same course twice in a reporting period.

If the justices approve the rules changes, the BBE is asking that they go into effect July 1 of next year.

According to the BBE’s memo, the proposed changes stem from a committee’s review of continuing lega- education topics offered in other jurisdictions and from the committee’s conclusion that online course providers have expanded the types of courses attorneys may take.

The justices are expected to discuss the BBE’s proposal next year.

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