Monthly Archives: August 2012

Facebook ‘Likes’ … Protected Speech?

By Jason Castillo, Director of Legal Education

Not long ago our Supreme Court decided that corporations donating money to political campaigns was considered protected free speech under the First Amendment.  The case is known as Citizens United and the decision left quite a few people scratching their heads … because the court first had to decide that corporations are essentially people in order to gain protections under the First Amendment.

Well, another speech case in Virginia now has people scratching their heads.  The case involves Facebook ‘likes’ and protected speech under the First Amendment.  In case you live in a cave and have never been on Facebook:[1]

The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your website.

In the Virginia case, Judge Raymond A. Jackson concluded that merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection according.  Judge Jackson reasoned that since there are no ‘statements’ made when clicking the ‘like’ button there is no First Amendment protection.

“No such statements exist in this case. … Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection.”

It seems that this Virginia judge has either taken an incredibly narrow view of ‘speech’ in our digital age – or he needs to get a Facebook account!  For more information on the story, click here.  For the ACLU‘s latest brief to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, click here.


[1] http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/

New CLE FAQ for Washington Attorneys

Washington has one unique rule that I did not find in any other state – a limit to the amount of CLE courses an attorney can complete in one day. In 2009, the Washington MCLE Board made significant amendments to the MCLE rules and regulations.

The amendments include:

  • A member may earn no more than 8 CLE credits per day
  • The number of live credits required was reduced from 30 to 22.5
  • The number of online credits allowed was increased to 22.5
  • There is no longer an automatic extension

The eight course limit per day is very important for the extreme procrastinators. Since Washington attorneys must complete 45 units, a Washington attorney would have to start almost a full week ahead of the compliance deadline in order to finish on time. However, since attorneys in the Evergreen State have three full years to comply with the MCLE requirement this should not be an issue.

In addition to the eight credit hour limit Washington attorneys may also only satisfy up to 22.5 self-study credits of their CLE requirements through online courses – and this was actually increased back in 2009. Previously, attorneys could only earn 15 units through online CLE courses. Hopefully in the future the Washington MCLE Board will think about eliminating this limit on online courses. For more information about MCLE compliance in Washington please click the links below.

Washington CLE FAQ  

Washington How Does It Work?  

Washington CLE Requirements  

Washington One-Click State Bundles  

Washington MCLE Board

* Image of Mt. Rainier reflected in Reflection lake, by Kelvin Kay. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Updated CLE FAQ For Texas Attorneys

Most states fall into two categories when it comes to compliance and reporting deadlines. First, states like Illinois and California have one set deadline each year. The California compliance deadline is February 1, while Illinois attorneys must complete their MCLE by June 30.

Second, states like Texas and New York are “birthday” compliance states. For example, In Texas the compliance period begins on the first day of the month that you were born and ends one year later on the last day of the month that precedes your birth month.

Members who, as of the last day of their MCLE compliance year, have not completed their minimum CLE credit hours and reported same to the Director, or who are otherwise in Non-Compliance as described in Section 7.1, shall be given until the last day of their birth month as a grace period … completed CLE credit hours must be properly reported to the Director within the Grace Period for a member to avoid paying a Non-Compliance Fee. Texas MCLE Regulations Section 7.2

However, each Texas attorney is granted an automatic grace period – until the end of his or her birth month – in which to complete AND report MCLE hours for that compliance year. All CLE must be completed and reported (received by the MCLE Director) by the last day of the attorney’s birth month in order to avoid a non-compliance penalty fee. Members of the Texas Bar who do not complete their annual 15 unit MCLE requirement face possible suspension in accordance with Section 8(E), Article XII, Texas State Bar Rules.

If you need further information about credit requirements, compliance & reporting deadlines or any other aspect of MCLE in Texas we have just updated our FAQ for Texas attorneys. You can click the links below for more information.

Texas CLE FAQ  

Texas How Does It Work?    

Texas State CLE Page

Texas CLE Requirements    

State Bar of Texas MCLE 

MCLE Questions in Pennsylvania???

Pennsylvania is another state that limits the amount of online CLE courses an attorney may complete in a compliance period. Although Pennsylvania attorneys must complete 12 credit hours each year, only 4 credit hours of computer based programs can be used towards compliance.[1] Pennsylvania also has a number of other rules regarding “distance learning.”

Over the past several years, technical advances in the delivery and exchange of information have resulted in tremendous strides in distance learning options. The Rule change provides lawyers the option of completing four (4) hours per compliance year by participating in pre-approved, interactive, Internet or computer based CLE programs. The standards, implementation procedures, course provider obligations, lawyer requirements and a list of approved courses are detailed throughout the distance learning section of the PA CLE Board website.

It’s important to note that in order for a distance learning program to be approved for CLE in Pennsylvania, it must be preapproved, offered by an Accredited Provider and meet the minimum standards for distance learning, including participant tracking/interactivity. Our Pennsylvania courses have been preapproved by the Pennsylvania CLE Board and we utilize numerical codes to satisfy the tracking/interactivity requirement. To see a list of courses approved in Pennsylvania please click here.

We have also recently posted our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on continuing legal education (CLE) for Pennsylvania attorneys. You can access more information below:

Pennsylvania CLE FAQ 

Pennsylvania How Does It Work? 

Pennsylvania CLE Requirements 

Pennsylvania One-Click State Bundles

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board


[1] The current annual requirement for all compliance groups is twelve (12) hours including a minimum of one (1) hour of legal ethics. For further information see Pennsylvania Code Rule 105(a) and Regulation Section 3, entitled “Minimum Education Requirements.”

Oregon MCLE FAQ

Many states have a specialty credit requirement in addition to the general MCLE units that must be completed.[1] Attorneys in Oregon have three major specialty credit requirements that they must be aware of. First, Oregon attorneys must complete at least 3 credit hours in programs accredited for Access to Justice credit in alternate reporting periods.

In order to be accredited as an activity pertaining to access to justice for purposes of Rule 3.2(c), an activity shall be directly related to the practice of law and designed to educate attorneys to identify and eliminate from the legal profession and from the practice of law barriers to access to justice arising from biases against persons because of race, gender, economic status, creed, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Second, Oregon attorneys also must complete at least 6 credit hours in accredited CLE activities in legal ethics. This legal ethics requirement includes professionalism and educational activities pertaining to the role of lawyers concerning racial & ethnic issues, gender fairness, and disability issues.

Lastly, one of the six legal ethics credits must pertain to an Oregon attorney’s statutory child abuse reporting obligations. The Oregon Child Abuse Reporting Law is found at ORS 419B.005 to 419B.050 and it imposes a legal obligation on certain “public and private officials” to report child abuse.

Reporting is required when a lawyer has “reasonable cause to believe that any child with whom the [lawyer] comes in contact has suffered abuse or that any person with whom the [lawyer] comes in contact has abused a child. . . .” ORS 419B.010(1).

Since lawyers are included in the definition of “public or private officials,” attorneys in Oregon have a duty to report child abuse pursuant to ORS 419B.005(3)(m). Click here for more information about mandatory child abuse reporting for attorneys in Oregon.

For more information on specialty credits and MCLE in Oregon please click the links below:

Oregon CLE FAQ

Oregon How Does It Work?

Oregon State CLE Page

Oregon CLE Requirements

Oregon Access to Justice CLE Courses

Oregon Legal Ethics Courses

Oregon Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Course

Oregon State Bar MCLE


[1] For example, attorneys in California must complete 4 credit hour of legal ethics, 1 credit hour of substance abuse and 1 credit hour of elimination of bias as part of the CA MCLE requirement.

FAQ for NY CLE

According to the ABA there are over 160,000 attorneys active in New York. That’s quite a few attorneys who need to complete their 24 unit biennial MCLE requirement. To put that in perspective, there are about as many active lawyers practicing in New York as there is in Florida, Illinois and New Jersey – combined. Luckily, attorneys in New York can fulfill all 24 required MCLE units with online courses.

Continuing legal education courses or programs may include traditional live classroom or audience settings, teleconferences, video conferences, satellite transmissions, videotapes, audiotapes, motion picture presentations, interactive video instruction, activities electronically transmitted from another location, self- study, correspondence work, and online computer courses. 1500.21(d)

Like a few other states around the country, New York attorneys may request an extension of time to compete their CLE requirement. The New York CLE Board grants extensions of time based upon undue hardship or extenuating circumstances. If you cannot complete your CLE requirement within 30 days after your birthday you should request an extension of time with the New York CLE Board. Thirty days after your birthday is the deadline for experienced attorneys to complete their CLE and file their attorney registration form. Click here for the PDF application for an extension of time.

A request for an extension may be granted for a period of 90 days or less, absent compelling circumstances. It will take 30-45 days for the application to be processed and attorneys are advised to fulfill any remaining CLE requirements while awaiting a response from the CLE office.

If you need further information about MCLE compliance in New York please click the links below:

New York CLE FAQ

New York How Does It Work?  

New York State CLE Page  

New York CLE Requirements  

New York State Continuing Legal Education Board

MCLE Compliance Questions in Illinois?

Illinois attorneys recently had their MCLE requirement increased from 24 credit hours to 30 credit hours every two years. The Professional Responsibility requirement was also increased from four credit hours to six. Luckily, the next compliance group doesn’t have to report until June 30, 2013.

Beginning with the July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2012 two-year reporting period for attorneys with last names beginning A-M, and all two-year reporting periods thereafter, 30 CLE activity hours are required. Of these total hours, at least 6 must be in the area of professional responsibility, including professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues, civility, or legal ethics. Rule 794(d)(1).

Attorneys in Illinois who have not completed their required MCLE credits by the June 30 compliance deadline automatically receive a grace period extension until September 30 to complete the required CLE units. However, there is a price to pay for late compliance – one of two late fees will apply:

  1. $100 if the attorney reports non-compliance by July 31, 2012; or
  2. $150 if the attorney fails to report compliance, non-compliance or a valid exemption by July 31, 2012.

If you need further information about MCLE compliance in Illinois, we have recently updated our CLE FAQ for Illinois attorneys. The Illinois CLE FAQ has information about Illinois state requirements, requirements for newly admitted attorneys, reporting compliance and many other aspects of taking and completing online CLE courses through our Attorney Credits website.

If you need further information please click the links below:

Illinois CLE FAQ

Illinois How Does It Work?

Illinois State CLE Page

Illinios CLE Requirements

MCLE Board of the Supreme Court of Illinois

FAQ for Attorneys in Nevada

Nevada is one of the few states that allows attorneys to file an extension if they don’t think they will get their MCLE credits completed by the December 31 compliance deadline. Attorneys are essentially given until the March 1 reporting deadline to complete their CLE and must pay a $50 extension fee if their request is granted. However, if the attorney has a history of late compliance the Nevada MCLE Board may deny the request for extension.

Nevada attorneys would be wise to complete their MCLE requirement by the December 31 compliance deadline … or at the very least by May 1. After May 1, continued noncompliance results in the attorney’s name being placed on a Petition to the Supreme Court for suspension. Those attorneys who comply after the petition is filed will incur an additional $250.00 Consent to Dismissal fee. If the attorney has previously been placed on a petition within the preceding 5-year period, the Consent to Dismissal fee will be charged on a sliding scale from $350.00 to $1,250.00, depending on the number of times that the member has previously been placed on petition. AND the reinstatement fee has been increased to $500.00.

As you can see, Nevada allows an extension …. but it can get costly quick if you don’t complete your MCLE in a timely fashion. We have recently updated our Nevada CLE FAQ – answers to all your burning MCLE questions in Nevada!  Please click the links below for more information:

Nevada CLE FAQ    

Nevada – How Does it Work?    

Nevada CLE State Requirements      

Nevada Board of Continuing Legal Education

Nevada CLE Forms and Information 

Questions about CLE in Florida?

States around the country have varying rules when it comes to continuing legal education – different compliance dates, reporting cycles, credit hour requirements … the list is exhaustive. There are some states such as Delaware and Pennsylvania that even limit the amount of online units an attorney can complete.

Attorneys in Florida have no such limit when it comes to online education and may satisfy all 30 units with online courses. And as part of CLE Your Way we have numerous ways for attorneys in Florida to complete their CLE. Attorneys in Florida may choose from the following media formats:

Streaming Video

Video is streamed to your computer through your Internet browser

Streaming Audio

Audio is streamed to your computer through your Internet browser

MP3

Downloadable audio format; can be played on your computer, laptop, tablet, iPhone, iPad, smart phone or MP3 player

Video Download

Downloadable video format; can be viewed on your computer, laptop, tablet, iphone, iPad, or smart phone.

CD and DVD Bundle

If you purchased a CD or DVD bundle you will be sent a set of discs. View or listen to your courses with any compatible device.

MP3 Player Bundle

If you purchased an MP3 Player bundle you will be sent an MP3 Player pre-loaded with MP3 courses and an FM transmitter. The FM transmitter allows you to listen to your courses on your car stereo. The FM transmitter easily connects to the MP3 player and broadcasts your audio course to any unused FM radio channel.

USB Flash Stick Bundle

If you purchased a USB Flash Stick bundle you will be sent an 8 GB USB stick pre-loaded with video courses. To view the courses you will plug the USB stick into your computer, laptop, or tablet and start watching the courses.

One of our main goals at Attorney Credits is to make completing your CLEs as convenient and easy as possible. With our multiple media formats, attorneys in Florida and around the country can work online or offline – from the home, office, car.  And with our pre-loaded MP3 Player bundles, you can complete all 30 CLE units while walking around the lake or hanging out at the beach.

Click the links below for more information:

Florida CLE FAQ  

Florida CLE – How Does it Work?  

Florida CLE State Requirements    

Florida Bar CLE Webpage

Florida CLE Rules    

FAQ For Mandatory CLE in New Jersey

Only recently did CLE compliance become mandatory in New Jersey.[1] In New Jeresey, the Board on Continuing Legal Education was created and assigned the task of administering the Supreme Court’s requirement.[2]

New Jersey attorneys must be aware that only 12 of the required 24 units can be completed with online courses. However, there are two main exceptions that would allow New Jersey attorneys to complete all 24 units with approved online CLE. First, attorneys who do not reside in New Jersey may qualify for an out of state exemption (see: BCLE Reg 201:8).  Second, some attorneys may also qualify for a medical exemption which would allow them to complete all required 24 CLE units via online study (see: BCLE Reg 201:8).  For more information on these rules click here.

  • Compliance Group 1: Attorneys whose birthdays are during the period from January 1 through June 30 must certify their compliance in each even numbered year next following the completion of a compliance period.
  • Compliance Group 2: Attorneys whose birthdays are during the period from July 1 to December 31 must certify their compliance in each odd numbered year next following the completion of a compliance period.

We received a number of calls last year around the December 31 deadline from New Jersey attorneys.  Since MCLE is new to many  attorneys in New Jersey, there were quite a few questions on online credit hours, medical & out-of-state exceptions, reporting dates and other aspects of the new mandatory continuing legal education program. If you have questions we have recently updated our FAQ for New Jersey attorneys which should serve as an excellent informational resource. Please click the following links for more information:

New Jersey CLE FAQ

New Jersey CLE – How Does it Work?

New Jersey CLE State Requirements  

New Jersey Board on Continuing Legal Education 

New Jersey CLE Rules  


[1] Effective January 1, 2010, all lawyers holding a license to practice law in the State of New Jersey are required to participate in the mandatory continuing legal education program (http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/cle/).

[2] Pursuant to New Jersey (N.J.) Continuing Legal Education Rule 1:42.