Recently, Jayne Reardon of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, posed an interesting question – Does a Uniform Bar Exam Call for a Uniform Regulatory System? The post outlined how the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) has been adopted in several jurisdictions and asked whether national standards for attorney regulation are on the way. Indulge me as I pose a corollary to that question – are national CLE standards on the horizon?
Could you imagine the glorious world of uniform CLE standards? Whether you are in-house, a national provider of CLE or a bar association, such thoughts are the things that daydreams were made of. No more multiple applications for credit, no labyrinth of rules and regulations to navigate, no more convoluted calculus in trying to determine carry-over credit. Oh, to sleep perchance to dream!
Prior to joining a national law firm, I was with a state government agency, and, therefore, only had to gain expertise in one state’s CLE rules. In fact, I was lucky enough to “grow up” with the Illinois CLE rules – they came into existence as I was easing into my career in government. And, it was no small tasks to start the process of understanding how CLE works in one state – the policy, the administration, its evolution. I must admit, I didn’t quite understand the hardship of juggling multiple states’ various CLE rules until I transitioned into a private firm with a nationwide presence. Wowza.
On any given day, I spend numerous hours studying the intricacies of the CLE rules of various jurisdictions, determining whether credit is appropriate, and if so, what kind of credit, how much credit and the parameters of such credit (does it depend on format, on who is attending?). The lawyers I serve as customers often don’t understand why or how one program is accredited in state a, but not in state, and might be in state c, but we have to wait for an answer. And don’t even get me started on reciprocity! I believe that these complex and sometimes contradictory regulatory schemes result in less innovation (I for one, am always advocating that we should design activities, not information, but in doing so I often risk being outside any given states’ CLE requirements, so why bother?) and more frustration for attorneys who engage in a multi-jurisdictional practice.
I don’t know if we will get there in my lifetime, but I will continue to dream about a uniform CLE scheme...
National Training Manager
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP