Frequently Asked Questions
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What Qualifies for a CLE Credit?
Generally speaking there are three methods by which a lawyer can obtain CLE credit:
1. attend approved CLE courses;
2. teach an approved CLE course; or
3. engage in self-study.
Can I receive CLE Credit for teaching CLE Courses?
A lawyer may also receive credit for teaching a CLE course that would be approved for regular credit if the lawyer were attending as a participant. Credit is not allowed for teaching undergraduate courses or teaching courses presented to nonlawyers. A lawyer may claim up to five hours of preparation time for every one hour of lecture time for presentations made to lawyers. A lawyer may not claim credit for teaching the same course more than once.
How many hours of self-study can I claim on my Report of Compliance?
Fifteen hours of self-study are allowed during each reporting period. Self-study generally involves watching an approved video tape, listening to an approved audio tape, completing correspondence work with appropriate written materials, or some forms of on-line study. The Commission does not preapprove self-study work, but the specific self-study activities must be listed on the report of compliance.
What is the Uniquely Connected Exception
To provide more flexibility in the system and to accommodate the special needs of practitioners in today's competitive world, the Commission has provided for certain courses to qualify for limited CLE credit. The most notable exception is referred to as the "uniquely connected exception" (UCE). The UCE recognizes that practitioners in certain specialty areas must have background knowledge obtainable only by attending seminars not necessarily geared for attorneys. To receive credit for a course under the UCE, a lawyer must show how the course is uniquely connected to his or her practice. A lawyer may seek UCE credit for a course prior to filing the report of compliance, or may list the course on the report of compliance along with an attachment explaining why the course is uniquely connected. To avoid a letter from the Commission, attach a copy of the brochure for the seminar that shows the agenda for the seminar broken down by topic, speaker and time. A lawyer may not claim more than 20 hours of UCE credit in any three-year reporting period.
Can I receive credit for Mediation/Arbitration Seminars?
A few years ago the Commission determined it would allow regular CLE credit for arbitration/mediation training. The catch to the new policy is that the seminar must include lawyers as faculty, and the seminar must be primarily directed to attorneys.
Can I receive CLE credit for Committee Meetings?
The Commission frequently receives requests for CLE credit for various committee meetings. For example, requests have been made for CLE credit for work on the Supreme Court's Joint Procedures Committee and for the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The Commission does not allow regular CLE credit for committee work. Rather, in some instances self-study credit will be allowed for preparation time. This is not self-study credit in addition to the self-study discussed above. All self-study credit is limited to 15 hours per reporting period. No credit is given for simple attendance at a committee meeting. In addition, do not assume all committee work qualifies for self-study. To date self-study credit has been allowed for the Joint Procedures Committee, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Ethics Committee, Legislative Committee, and Joint Attorney Standards Committee. In addition lawyer legislators are allowed self-study credit for their work during a legislative session. Questions about the work of a particular committee should be forwarded to the Commission for review.
Are On-Line Computer Courses approvable for CLE credits
The Commission recently adopted the following policy regarding computer courses:
Policy 1.20: On-Line Computer Study.
To be approved for general CLE credit, an on-line computer seminar must:
Meet the standards set forth in section 1(a)(1) - (4) of the Guidelines for Approved Course Work;
Faculty must be on-line when making the presentation(s); and
The seminar must provide an interactive mechanism for attendees to ask and have questions answered by the seminar's faculty.
Seminars utilizing videodisc, video on demand or review of an on-line program after the seminar date may qualify for self-study credit, but not general CLE credit.
The policy is designed to balance the requirements of the CLE rules with the opportunities afforded by on-line seminars.
What if I am Thinking of Retirement or Will be Leaving the State?
A number of years ago the Supreme Court amended the CLE rules to allow attorneys who plan to retire or who plan to the leave the state to apply for inactive status. If an attorney is planning on retiring or leaving the practice of law in North Dakota, a request for inactive status must be filed prior to July 31st of the year in which the attorney must report. Request for inactive status may be obtained from the Commission.
Are Extensions Allowed?
Rarely, if ever. In order to receive an extension a lawyer must show extraordinary circumstances that prohibited the attorney from attending CLE seminars during the three-year reporting period. A review of past Commission action indicates that extensions were granted only in situations involving prolonged illness. Losing one's CLE files, simply not having sufficient hours, and the financial hardship created by the cost of seminars were all found to be insufficient reasons, and the requests were denied. Attorneys who believe they may qualify for an extension should contact the Commission in writing in July. A request for extension form will be mailed, and the attorney will more than likely be contacted by Commission staff to discuss options.
The policies of the Commission for Continuing Legal Education are intended to aide lawyers as they attempt to satisfy their Continuing Legal Education obligation. It is hoped that the Commission's policies will contribute to the goal of having lawyers who are well-versed on the current status of the law in North Dakota. If you have questions regarding CLE, contact the Association office.