Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Rules
Rules of The Supreme Court of The State of Oklahoma.
For Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)
Adopted and Promulgated by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma on the 17th day of January, 1986. Effective March 1, 1986. Amended to January 2020.
RULE 1. MANDATORY CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION COMMISSION (MCLEC)
- There is hereby established a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission (MCLEC) consisting of eleven (11) members who are members of the Bar of this State of which one voting member may be a non-resident of the State of Oklahoma. The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association and the Director of Continuing Legal Education of the Oklahoma Bar Association shall be ex-officio members without vote. The remaining nine (9) members shall be appointed by the President of the Oklahoma Bar Association with the consent of the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association.
- The MCLEC shall have the following duties:
- To exercise general supervisory authority over the administration of these rules.
- To adopt regulations consistent with these rules with approval of the Board of Governors.
- Report annually on the activities and operations of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission to the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
- Five (5) Commissioners shall constitute a quorum of the MCLEC.
- A member of the MCLEC who misses three (3) consecutive regular meetings of the MCLEC, for whatever reason, shall automatically vacate the office
RULE 2. SCOPE AND EXEMPTIONS
- Effective January 1, 2015, except as provided herein these rules shall apply to every active and senior member of the Oklahoma Bar Association as defined by Article II of the Rules Creating and Controlling the Oklahoma Bar Association.
- An attorney is exempt from the educational requirements of these rules for the calendar year during which he or she was first admitted to practice.
- All Judges who, during the entire reporting period, are by Constitution, law or regulation prohibited from the private practice of law, members of the United States Congress, members of the Oklahoma Legislature, the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, members of the armed forces on full-time active duty, and members of the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association, members of the Professional Responsibility Commission and members of the Professional Responsibility Tribunal, during their year(s) of service, shall be exempt from the educational requirements of these rules.
- An attorney having been granted an exemption based on attaining age 65 prior to January 1, 2015, shall be granted a continuing exemption.
- An attorney who, during the entire reporting period, is a nonresident of the State of Oklahoma and did not practice law in the State of Oklahoma is exempt from the educational requirements of these rules.
- An attorney who files an affidavit with the Commission on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education of the Oklahoma Bar Association stating that the attorney did not practice law during the reporting period is exempt from the educational requirements of these rules.
- Any person claiming an exemption hereunder is required to file an annual report in compliance with these rules and regulations.
RULE 3. CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION (CLE) REQUIREMENTEach attorney subject to these rules pursuant to Rule 2 herein shall attend, or complete an approved substitute for attendance, a minimum of twelve (12) hours of approved continuing legal education each calendar year beginning January 1, 1986.
RULE 4. CREDITS
- Credit will be given for CLE programs approved by the MCLEC.
- Hours in excess of the minimum annual requirement may be carried forward for credit only in the succeeding year.
RULE 6. NONCOMPLIANCE AND SANCTIONS
- As soon as practicable after February 15th of each year, the Commission on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education shall furnish to the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association
- a list of those attorneys who have not reported for the calendar year ending the preceding December 31st as required by Rule 5, Rules for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, and.
- a list of attorneys who have reported on or before February 15th indicating that they have not complied with the requirements of Rule 3, Rules of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
- For a member who fails to comply with the Rule 3 continuing legal education requirement by December 31st of each year, there shall be added an expense charge of $100.00. For a member who fails to comply with the Rule 5 annual report requirement by February 15th of each year, there shall be added an expense charge of $100.00. The Commission is authorized to, and may waive the expense charge for a late filing of the Rule 5 annual report upon finding by the Commission that the late filing was attributable to extreme hardship. Attorneys seeking a waiver shall do so by written application submitted to the Commission. The Commission is authorized to adopt, from time to time, policies and procedures as may be deemed appropriate for continuity in the exercise of the forgoing discretionary authority.
- The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association shall then serve by certified mail each attorney who has not complied with the Rules for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, with an order to show cause, within sixty (60) days, why the attorney's license should not be suspended at the expiration of the sixty (60) days. Cause may be shown by furnishing the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association with an affidavit by the attorney and a certificate from the MCLEC (a) indicating that the attorney has complied with the requirement prior to the expiration of the sixty (60) days or (b) setting forth a valid reason for failure to comply with the requirement because of illness or other good cause.
- At the expiration of sixty (60) days from the date of the order to show cause, if good cause is not shown, the Board of Governors shall file application with the Supreme Court recommending suspension of the delinquent's membership. Upon order of the Court, the attorney shall be so suspended and shall not thereafter practice law in this state until reinstated as provided herein. At any time within one (1) year after the order of suspension, an attorney may file with the Executive Director an affidavit by the attorney and a certificate from the MCLEC indicating compliance with the Rules for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, and payment of a reinstatement fee of $500.00 and, if satisfactory to the Executive Director, the member will be restored to membership and the Executive Director will notify the Clerk and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and cause notice of reinstatement to be published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal.
- A suspended member who does not file an application for reinstatement within one (1) year from the date the member is suspended by the Supreme Court for noncompliance with the Rules for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, shall cease automatically to be a member of the Association, and the Board of Governors shall file an application with the Supreme Court recommending the member be stricken from the membership rolls. Subsequent to the Order of the Court, if the attorney desires to become a member of the Association within two years, the attorney shall be required to file with the Professional Responsibility Commission an affidavit by the attorney and a certificate from the MCLEC indicating compliance with the Rules for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for the year suspended for noncompliance with MCLE, including payment of all fees and charges, and the attorney must comply with Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings of the Oklahoma Bar Association, unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. If the attorney desires to become a member of the Association after two years and a day, the attorney shall be required to file with the Professional Responsibility Commission an affidavit by the attorney and a certificate from the MCLEC indicating completion of 24 CLE credits, including 2 legal ethics credits, including payment of all fees and charges, and the attorney must comply with Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings of the Oklahoma Bar Association, unless otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
RULE 7. REGULATIONS
The following Regulations for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education are hereby adopted and shall remain in effect until revised or amended by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission with approval of the Board of Governors and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
- 1.1 The Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission shall consist of eleven (11) members as provided by Supreme Court rule. The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association and the Director of Continuing Legal Education of the Oklahoma Bar Association shall be ex-officio members without vote. Nine (9) members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President of the Oklahoma Bar Association with the consent of the Board of Governors. Initially three (3) appointed members shall serve one-year terms, three (3) appointed members shall serve two-year terms, and three (3) appointed members shall serve three-year terms. Thereafter, at the expiration of the stated terms, all members shall serve three-year terms. Members shall not serve more than two successive three-year terms.
- 1.2 The President of the Oklahoma Bar Association shall appoint the Chairman of the Commission on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education. The Commission on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education shall elect a Vice Chairman and Secretary from among its members.
- 1.3 The Commission may organize itself into committees of not fewer than four (4) voting members for the purpose of considering and deciding matters submitted to them, except five (5) affirmative votes shall be necessary for any action under Rule 6 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
1.4 Members of the Commission shall be reimbursed for their actual direct expenses incurred in travel when authorized by the Board of Governors or the President.
- 1.5 Support staff as may be required shall be employed by the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association in the same manner and according to the same procedure as other employees of the Oklahoma Bar Association within the funds available in the budget approved by the Supreme Court.
1.6 As used herein "MCLEC" and the "Commission" shall mean the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission. "CLE" shall mean Continuing Legal Education. "MCLE" shall mean Mandatory Continuing Legal Education. "Rules" referred to shall mean and are the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
- 2.1 Nonresident attorneys from other jurisdictions who are temporarily admitted to practice for a case or proceeding shall not be subject to the rules or regulations governing MCLE.
- 2.2 An attorney who is exempt from the MCLE requirement under Rule 2 shall endorse and claim the exemption on the annual report required by Rule 5 of said rules.
- 3.1 Attorneys who have a permanent physical disability which makes attendance at CLE programs inordinately difficult may file a request for a permanent substitute program in lieu of attendance and shall therein set out continuing legal education plans tailored to their specific interest and physical ability. The Commission shall review and approve or disapprove such plans on an individual basis and without delay. Rejection of any requested substitute for attendance will be reviewed by the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association prior to any sanction being imposed. Application to Request a Waiver
- 3.2 Other requests for substituted compliance, partial waivers, or other exemptions for hardship or extenuating circumstances may be granted by the Commission upon written application of the attorney and may likewise be reviewed by the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Other substitute forms of compliance may be granted for members with permanent or temporary physical disabilities (based upon a written confirmation from his or her treating physician) which makes attendance at regular approved CLE programs difficult or impossible. Application to Request a Waiver
- 3.3 Credit may be earned through teaching in an approved continuing legal education program, or for a presentation substantially complying with the standards of Regulation 4 in a program which is presented to paralegals, legal assistants, and/or law clerks. Presentations accompanied by thorough, high quality, readable, and carefully prepared written materials will qualify for CLE credit on the basis of six (6) hours of credit for each hour of presentation.
- 3.4 Credit may also be earned through teaching a course in an ABA accredited law school or a course in a paralegal or legal assistant program accredited by the ABA. The Commission will award six (6) hours of CLE credit for each semester hour of academic credit awarded by the academic institution for the course.
- 3.5 Credit may also be earned through auditing of or regular enrollment in a college of law course at an ABA or AALS approved law school. The MCLE credit allowed shall equal a sum equal to three (3) times the number of credit hours granted by the college of law for the completion of the course.
- 3.6 Instructional Hour. Each attorney must complete 12 instructional hours of CLE per year, with no credit for meal breaks or business meetings. An instructional hour must contain at least 50 minutes of instruction.
Legal Ethics and Professionalism CLE. Effective January 1, 2021, of the 12 required instructional hours of CLE each year, at least two hours must be for programming on Legal Ethics and Professionalism, legal malpractice prevention and/or mental health and substance use disorders.
PROGRAM GUIDELINES FOR LEGAL ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM CLE
Legal Ethics and Professionalism CLE programs will address the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct and tenets of the legal profession by which a lawyer demonstrates civility, honesty, integrity, fairness, competence, ethical conduct, public service, and respect for the Rule of Law, the courts, clients, other lawyers, witnesses and unrepresented parties. Legal Ethics and Professionalism CLE may also address legal malpractice prevention and mental health and substance use disorders.
Legal Malpractice Prevention programs provide training and education designed to prevent attorney malpractice. The programs focus on developing systems, processes and habits that reduce or eliminate attorney errors. The programs may cover issues like ensuring timely fillings within statutory limits, meeting court deadlines, properly protecting digital client information, appropriate client communications, avoiding and resolving conflicts of interest, proper handling of client trust accounts and proper ways to terminate or withdraw from client representation.
Programs addressing the ethical tenets of other disciplines and not specifically pertaining to legal ethics are not eligible for Legal Ethics and Professionalism CLE credit but may meet the requirements for general CLE credit.
- 3.7 Hours of credit in excess of the minimum annual requirement may be carried forward for credit only in the succeeding calendar year. Such hours must, however, be reported on the annual report of compliance for the year in which they were completed and in the year for which they are being claimed and must be designated as hours being carried forward.
- 4.1.1 The following standards will govern the approval of continuing legal education programs by the Commission.
- 4.1.2 The program must have significant intellectual or practical content and its primary objective must be to increase the participant's professional competence as an attorney.
- 4.1.3 The program must deal primarily with matters related to the practice of law, professional responsibility, legal ethics, professionalism, mental health or substance use disorders related to attorneys. Programs that address law practice management and technology, as well as programs that cross academic lines, may be considered for approval.
- 4.1.4 The program must be offered by a provider having substantial, recent, experience in offering continuing legal education or demonstrated ability to organize and present effectively continuing legal education. Demonstrated ability arises partly from the extent to which individuals with legal training or educational experience are involved in the planning, instruction and supervision of the program.
- 4.1.5 The program itself must be conducted by an individual or group qualified by practical or academic experience. The program, including the named advertised participants, must be conducted substantially as planned, subject to emergency withdrawals and alterations.
- 4.1.6 Thorough, high quality, readable, and carefully prepared written materials must be made available to all participants at or before the time the course is presented, unless the absence of such materials is recognized as reasonable and approved by the MCLE Administrator. A mere outline without citations or explanatory notations will not be sufficient.
- 4.1.7 The program must be conducted in a comfortable physical setting, conducive to learning and equipped with suitable writing surfaces.
- 4.1.8 Approval may be given for programs where audiovisual recorded or reproduced material is used. Video programs shall qualify for CLE credit in the same manner as a live CLE program provided:
- the original CLE program was approved for CLE credit as provided in these regulations or the video program has been approved by the Commission under these rules, and
- each person attending the video program is provided written material as required in Regulation 4.1.6 and
- each program is conducted in a location as required in Regulation 4.1.7 and
- there are a minimum of five (5) persons enrolled and in attendance at the presentation of the video program unless viewed at the Oklahoma Bar Center or sponsored by a county bar association in Oklahoma.
- Live interactive webcast seminars, webcast replay seminars, live teleconferences, teleconference replays, on-line, on-demand programs and downloadable podcasts. If approved, an attorney may earn credit for seminars provided by these various delivery methods without an annual limit. Such programs must also meet the criteria established in the Rules of the Oklahoma Supreme Court for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, Rule 7, Regulation 4, subject to standard course approval procedures and appropriate verification from the course provider.
- The target audience must be attorneys.
- The course shall provide high quality written instructional materials. These materials may be available to be downloaded or otherwise furnished so that the attorney will have the ability to refer to such materials during and subsequent to the seminars.
- The provider must have procedures in place to independently verify an attorney's completion of a program. Verification procedures may vary by format and by provider. An attorney affidavit attesting to the completion of a program is not by itself sufficient.
- If an online, on demand seminar is approved, it is approved only for twelve (12) months after the approval is granted. The provider may submit an application to have the course considered for approval in subsequent years.
- If approval is requested before the course or program is presented the application and supporting documentation shall be submitted at least forty-five (45) days prior to the date for which the course or program is scheduled.
- If approval is requested after the applicant has attended a course or program the application and supporting documentation shall be submitted within ninety (90) days after the date the course or program was presented or prior to the end of the calendar year in which the course or program was presented, whichever is earlier.
4.1.9 Approval for credit may also be granted for the following types of electronic-based CLE programs:
4.2 Continuing legal education programs sponsored by the following organizations are presumptively approved for credit, provided that the standards set out in the Regulations 4.1.2 through 4.1.7 are met:
All other county bar associations in Oklahoma presenting seminars or programs that are co-sponsored by an organization that has presumptive approval as a CLE provider.
4.3 Approved seminars may be advertised in informational brochures and program materials provided by the sponsoring body. Organizations listed in Regulation 4.2 whose programs are presumptively approved shall give adequate notice that a program or seminar it conducts is not approved for MCLE credit in the event the program or seminar does not meet the standards set forth in Regulations 4.1.1 through 4.1.7.
4.4 The Commission may at any time re-evaluate and grant or revoke presumptive approval of a provider.
4.5 Any organization not included in Regulation 4.2 above, desiring approval of a course or program shall apply to the Commission by submitting an application on a form to be obtained from the Commission and supporting documentation at least forty-five (45) days prior to the date for which the course or program is scheduled. The Commission will advise the applicant in writing by mail within ten (10) days of the receipt of the completed application whether the program is approved or disapproved. Applicants denied approval of a program may appeal such a decision by submitting a letter of appeal to the Commission within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the notice of disapproval.
4.6 An attorney desiring approval of a course or program which has not otherwise been approved shall apply to the Commission by submitting an application on a form to be obtained from the Commission and supporting documentation as follows:
4.7 The provider of an approved continuing legal education program may announce or indicate as follows:
This course has been approved by the Oklahoma Bar Association Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission for _____ hours of CLE credit, including ______ hours of legal ethics credit.
4.8 As soon as practicable but in any event on or before the earlier of (1) thirty (30) days following an approved legal education program or (2) January 10 of the succeeding year, the provider shall furnish to the Commission such attendance information in such format as the Commission shall direct.
On or before February 15th of each year, every active member, of the Oklahoma Bar Association shall submit a report in a form as the Commission shall provide concerning such attorney's completion of, exemption from or approved substitute for the minimum hours of instruction, including reference to hours earned during the preceding year and hours to be carried forward to the next year.
5.1 Commencing with calendar year 2004, the MCLEC shall deem a member to have fulfilled the reporting requirements and to have reported as required by the Rules of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education if the official records of the OBA indicate the member is in compliance with the minimum educational requirements or exempt from compliance for the year in question.
Caveat: It shall remain the responsibility of each member to review the accuracy of the OBA records and reports, and to be assured that exemption or compliance is recognized by the MCLEC. Reports and records are available for member review by logging on to MyOKMCLE.
Providers of the seminars or courses qualifying for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education credits shall keep records of attendance for a period of two (2) years following the date of the course or seminar.