Mandatory CLE Comes to Illinois Lawyers

By at 29 September, 2005, 10:59 am

On September 29, 2005, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted rules requiring mandatory Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for Illinois attorneys. The text of these Rules can be found at the Illinois Supreme Court website and are designated as Rules 790 – 797.

The apparent purpose of these new rules is set out in the Preamble which states:

The public contemplates that attorneys will maintain certain standards of professional competence throughout their careers in the practice of law. The following rules regarding Minimum Continuing Legal Education are intended to assure that those attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois remain current regarding the requisite knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the professional responsibilities and obligations of their respective practices and thereby improve the standards of the profession in general.

Mandatory CLE has long been the topics of rumors and discussions in Illinois and has elicited both support and dissent for the need for a mandatory rule. Concerns include increased costs of CLE now that it is mandatory and attorneys have no choice in whether or not to attend CLE each year. On the other hand, the State Bar is following in the footsteps of other bar associations such as Missouri in hosting a Solo and Small Firm Conference which could allow members to satisfy much if not all of the annual requirements.

Rule 793 will require attorneys admitted to Illinois practice after December 31, 2005 to complete a Basic Skills Course totaling a minimum of 15 hours of instruction on a range of topics. Specifically,

The course shall cover such topics as the jurisdiction of local courts, local court rules, filing requirements for various government agencies, how to draft pleadings and other documents, practice techniques and procedures under the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, client communications, use of trust accounts, required record keeping and other rudimentary elements of practice.

For all other Illinois attorneys, the initial requirement will be for 24 hours of CLE during the 2 year period that begins on July 1 of even numbered years for last names starting with A-M and July 1 of odd numbered years for last names starting with N-Z. After the initial period, the requirement shall be 30 hours of CLE during the 2 year period. Attorneys will be allowed to carry over a maximum of 10 hours from one reporting period to the next (excluding Professional Responsibility CLE).

The bottom line is that the Illinois Supreme Court has spoken and Illinois Lawyers must comply.

Categories : Hmmm! | Practice Management

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