Monthly Archives: September 2012

Law Blogs … Here to Stay

It was only last year when I overheard this comment between a couple of seasoned practitioners at a CLE event: “Well, I guess I have to go out and get an email account … because that email thing isn’t going away!”  Yes, I did almost spit out my morning coffee when I heard this – although I was luckily able to refrain and simply offer a small chuckle under my breath.

There was a bit of facetiousness to the comment … but there was also bit of seriousness.  These attorneys have probably seen quite a few advancements in their years of practice, from the fax machine to Personal Computers.  Somewhere deep inside, I think that last thing this attorney wanted to do was adapt to a new technology in the last few years of his career.

One thing that is apparent in 2012 is that law blogs are here to stay – and they have come a long way since the early days of Web 2.0.[1]  We have come so far in fact, that the ATL blog (Above the Law) even found it’s way to the top of the Business Insider’s 15 Most Influential Law Blogs.  All the way to #2 in fact.

Like many technological advancements in the legal community, blogs have taken a little bit of time to catch on.  But at this point in time, blogs, tweets and ‘friending’ have become firmly entrenched in our online society. These are no longer fads … Facebook and blogging are now part of the legal landscape as well – just like courts, depositions and angry judges.

To check to see if any of your favorite blogs made the Business Insiders Top 15 Most Influential Law Blogs, please click here.   And to learn more about law blogs, take a look at what Kevin O’Keefe is doing over at LexBlog.


[1] For an incredibly great (and entertaining read) see “What Is Web 2.0” by Tim O’Reily

http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

South Dakota CLE

South Dakota is yet another state without a mandatory continuing legal education requirement for attorneys who practice within its borders.  Further, it’s incredibly difficult to find any information about CLE in South Dakota.

One of the few resources I was able to locate was from the State Bar of South Dakota.  On the State Bar of South Dakota homepage, there are a handful of CLE courses listed that are sponsored by the state bar.  Interestingly enough, one of the courses was on oil, gas and mineral law issues – a type of CLE course that I’m not used to seeing.  However, I would imagine this course would be very popular for some South Dakota attorneys.

If you practice in South Dakota and you need to bush up on a new legal skill or the current state of the law, we now offer a number of excellent resources for South Dakota attorneys to stay on top of the latest legal developments and trends.  Although CLE may not be mandatory in South Dakota, attorneys should complete at least a few CLE courses each year to keep up to date with professional responsibilities.

Rule 1.1 of the South Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct states:

“A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

What better avenue for meeting your professional responsibility duties than completing CLE courses? Taking CLE courses is a great way to provide clients with the level of service that they need and helps you fulfill your ethical duties with the state bar.  CLE can help you with your legal knowledge and make sure that you are properly prepared to represent your clients in the 21st century.

Between e-discovery and social media, society and the practice of law have changed quite drastically in the last five years.  We have the CLE courses that you need to keep up to date.

Please click the links below for more information:

South Dakota CLE Requirements  

South Dakota CLE FAQ  

South Dakota How Does It Work?  

South Dakota CLE Course List    

South Dakota State CLE Page    

South Dakota One-Click State Bundles  

Now Offering CLE for Michigan Attorneys

Michigan is one of the handful of states around the country that do not have an MCLE requirement for attorneys.  Interestingly enough, Michigan previously had an MCLE requirement – but the MCLE requirement was abandoned and the experiment was labeled “a disaster” by some.[1]

Here’s how the story goes.  In 1987, a proposal was adopted by the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly to make CLE mandatory for Michigan attorneys.  However, the State Bar itself eventually asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rescind the rule in 1994 – which they did.  The request was eventually presented to the Michigan Supreme Court. In 2001, that request for mandatory CLE was withdrawn.

Currently, Michigan has no plans to make CLE mandatory. However, the wise practitioner can use CLE to enhance their professional competence and become a better lawyer.

“Michigan does not have mandatory CLE requirements. Completion of CLE is encouraged to help lawyers and judges increase their professional competence, keep current on developments in the law, and become more proficient.”

Further, even though CLE is not mandatory in Michigan, completing CLE courses is a great way to keep current with the law and fulfill your ethical duties. Comment 6 to Rule 1.1 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) states:

“To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education.”

The original MCLE requirement in Michigan was aimed at new lawyers.  However, the new lawyers complained that mandatory CLE did not increase their competence as attorneys.  Ironic, because new lawyers are probably the ones most in need of CLE courses.

For more information, please click the links below

Michigan Lawyers Reject Mandatory Continuing Education

Michigan CLE Requirements

Michigan CLE FAQ

Michigan How Does It Work?

Michigan CLE Course List  

Michigan State CLE Page  

Michigan One-Click State Bundles  


[1] Michigan Lawyers Reject Mandatory Continuing Legal Education

http://www.mspp.net/mcloughlin2.htm

CLE for Attorneys in Maryland

Maryland is another state without an MCLE requirement … for now.[1] The Maryland MCLE subcommittee recently voted to recommend that the Commission on Professionalism support an MCLE requirement for attorneys in Maryland.

The push for MCLE in Maryland started in 2009, when the Commission on Professionalism formed an MCLE subcommittee to examine the whether the Maryland Bar should adopt Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). The MCLE subcommittee also contemplated what the specific MCLE requirements should be in Maryland if CLE became mandatory.

“It remains true that the anti-MCLE lawyers are not going to benefit to the degree that those who are proponents or at least those who are apathetic will, but even the anti-MCLE practitioners run the risk of learning something. MCLE probably benefits the most those who would have gone but just could not make time for it, but now must. The result is that more lawyers are receiving an education.”[2]

Under the draft Rule submitted by the Commission on Professionalism, active attorneys in Maryland would have to complete ten (10) hours of mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) annually – unless they are exempt from the MCLE requirement. As part of the 10 hour annual requirement, attorneys would have to complete two credit hours in professionalism.  One bright spot – it appears that Maryland attorneys will be allowed to complete their MCLE requirements online.[3]

“With modern technology, attorneys can easily access teleconferences, webcasts and podcasts at less cost than more traditional programs …”

The Maryland Professionalism Commission has posted the proposed MCLE Rules on the Judiciary’s Web site. To review the proposal click here.

Please click the links below for more information:

FAQs About the Commission and its Proposed Rule on MCLE

Mandatory CLE in Maryland

Maryland CLE Requirements  

Maryland CLE FAQ    

Maryland How Does It Work?  

Maryland CLE Course List

Maryland State CLE Page

Maryland One-Click State Bundles

Continuing legal education for attorneys is not mandatory in Maryland


[1] Forty-seven U.S. states and territories require lawyers to take CLE courses in order to practice law. Maryland is one of only seven jurisdictions that does not have a mandatory continuing legal education (“MCLE”) requirement. The other states include Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, South Dakota, Washington D.C.

[2] Grigg, Lisa A., “The Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Debate: Is it Improving Lawyer Competence or Just Busy Work?” 12 BYU J. Pub. L. 417, 427 (1998)

[3] FAQs About the Commission and its Proposed Rule on MCLE

http://www.courts.state.md.us/professionalism/faq-cle.html

CLE for Massachusetts Attorneys

Run a Google search for ‘MCLE’ … and the first thing that pops up is Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). Ironically, although there is no MCLE requirement in Massachusetts, the CLE body in Massachusetts is known as MCLE – and their website can be found at mcle.org.

However, the ‘M’ in MCLE does not stand for mandatory or minimum like most states, it stands for Massachusetts.  But if there is no MCLE requirement, why should attorneys in “The Bay State” consider taking CLE courses?

The simple answer: to become a better lawyer.

“MCLE aims to keep raising the caliber of lawyers’ professional and ethical service to their clients and communities, by providing comprehensive and highly practical continuing legal education of the highest quality to the broadest possible audience.”[1]

In today’s day and age, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest trends and developments in the law.  CLE offers the perfect opportunity to brush up on the nuances of e-discovery or learn how to better communicate with your clients. And we now offer a number of great CLE courses so that Massachusetts attorneys can master their craft.

Please click on the links below for more information:

CLE Obligations for Massachusetts Bar Members 

Massachusetts CLE Requirements  

Massachusetts CLE FAQ  

Massachusetts How Does It Work?

Massachusetts CLE Course List 

Massachusetts State CLE Page

Massachusetts One-Click State Bundles    

Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education on Facebook


[1] Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Massachusetts-Continuing-Legal-Education/128352810523011?sk=info

CLE for D.C.

In the world of CLE there are two kinds of states out there – mandatory and non-mandatory CLE states. At this point in time, there are only a handful of states where CLE is not mandatory. In the past few years states Nebraska and New Jersey have adopted MCLE, leaving Connecticut, Hawaii, Washington D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and South Dakota as the remaining non-mandatory states.

“Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for lawyers is mandatory in 45 states, with each possessing its own unique set of MCLE rules and regulations. CLE rules and regs govern attorney compliance and provider and course accreditation.”[1] – Tim Baran

We have recently added CLE courses in non-mandatory states for attorneys who want to remain up to date on the state of the law or who are seeking a discount from their insurance carrier. Yes, that’s right – some insurance carriers such as ALPS offer discounts in non-mandatory states for attorneys who complete a certain amount of CLE.

“Did you know that ALPS offers a 10% credit for each attorney in a firm who has received 3 CLE credits (in the areas of Ethics, Risk Management, Loss Prevention and/or Office Management) annually?”[2]

We have recently added CLE courses for attorneys licensed in the District of Columbia. While the District of Columbia Bar does not have mandatory or minimum continuing legal education requirements, its members are strongly encouraged to engage in such continuing legal education as is necessary to maintain their competence to practice law.[3] 

D.C. attorneys can now choose from a number of highly informative courses, from the ethics of fee agreements to conducting an effective voir dire. CLE is the perfect avenue to learning about an emerging area of law like e-discovery or brush up on a skill like jury selection … and you might be able to save yourself a few bucks on your professional liability insurance.

Please click the links below for more information:

CLE Obligations for D.C. Bar Members

D.C. CLE Requirements 

D.C. CLE FAQ

How Does It Work?

D.C. CLE Course List

D.C. State CLE Page

D.C. One-Click State Bundles     

How Wacky Are Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Rules?


[1] How Wacky Are Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Rules?

http://lawyerist.com/how-wacky-are-mandatory-continuing-legal-education-rules/

[2] http://www.alpsnet.com/attorneys/cle/nevada-cle.aspx

[3] See D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.1, Comment [6].

Are Your Tweets Protected by The Fourth Amendment?

Just about every attorney – criminal or otherwise – can tell you that the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. The difficult part has always been the application of the standard … and social media only makes the application of the Fourth Amendment even trickier.

The latest clash between the Fourth Amendment and online privacy revolves around the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Last week Twitter was forced (through a judge’s order) to divulge the tweets and account information connected to an Occupy protester.

“If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. There is no proprietary interest in your tweets, which you have now gifted to the world. This is not the same as a private e-mail, a private direct message, a private chat, or any of the other readily available ways to have a private conversation via the internet that now exist. Those private dialogues would require a warrant based on probable cause in order to access the relevant information.” – Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino

Apparently, the judge equates tweeting with screaming out the window – and assigns very little privacy to the content you tweet on the social network … despite the fact that you account is password protected and only limited people have access to your tweets.

What do you think? Did Judge Sciarrino get it wrong?

Follow Attorney Credits on Twitter and click the links below for more information:

The People of the State of New York vs. Malcolm Harris, Twitter, Inc.

Twitter Reluctantly Coughs Up Occupy Protester’s Data

Twitter Ordered to Release OWS Protester’s Data or Be Fined for Contempt

Now Offering CLE for Alabama Attorneys

We are happy to report that we are now offering CLE courses for attorneys in Alabama. Attorneys from the “Yellowhammer State” may now take a number of Attorney Credit’s courses that have been pre-approved by the Alabama CLE Commission.

Alabama attorneys may earn up to six credit hours each reporting cycle with online CLE courses. This is not bad considering this represents half of the required 12 CLE units that Alabama attorneys must complete each year.

In addition, we also keep track and report your compliance to the Alabama CLE Commission within thirty (30) days of course completion. Many attorneys enjoy this value added reporting feature.  It saves you the time and hassle of reporting your CLE units yourself.

Credits for the 2012 MCLE year must be completed by midnight of December 31, 2012. Transcripts will be available ONLY online in late January after posting of programs and attendance has been completed. Non-compliant attorneys will receive a written Notice of Non-Compliance on or about January 31, 2013.[1]

We have also created an FAQ for attorneys in Alabama. This is a very comprehensive FAQ that answers a number of important questions an attorney might have about the MCLE requirements in Alabama. Please make sure to complete and report your CLE by the deadlines listed above. Failure to report by January 31 will cost you $100 — and any deficiency plan must be accompanied by another $100 check.

Please click the links below for further information:

Alabama CLE FAQ    

Alabama How Does It Work?    

Alabama CLE Requirements    

Alabama State CLE Page

Alabama One-Click State Bundles    

Alabama CLE Commission


[1] https://www.alabar.org/cle/

Should States Enact Social Media Privacy Legislation?

California recently became the first state in the country to pass legislation aimed at preventing employers and colleges from viewing the social media accounts of employees and students.[1] While a number of other states have passed this type of legislation, California is the first state to protect both students and employees.

This legislation may collectively save California businesses tens of millions of dollars a year in costs to monitor their employees’ personal digital accounts. In addition, this law may save California businesses tens of millions of dollars per year on cyber liability insurance premiums that would accompany a duty to monitor employees in the digital/social media space.[2] – Bradley Shear

However, some commentators claim that this type of legislation greatly expands employee’s rights. And the financial industry lobbied for – but was denied – an exemption from the California legislation.

Social media legislation crystallizes the novel privacy issues we now face in the Digital Age. While this type of legislation may afford employees and students expanded privacy rights, there has never been a Facebook before.

Governor Jerry Brown must decide by September 30 whether to sign or veto these two bills. I would expect the two bills to pass. Since numerous states have also enacted social media legislation, it is apparent that carving out a small slice of electronic privacy is an important priority to many Americans.

By Jason Castillo, Director of Legal Education

For more information please click the links below:

Will Other States Follow Maryland in Protecting Online Privacy

California’s Governor Mulling Pair of Social Media Bill

California: First state to pass comprehensive social media privacy legislation

California Social Media Privacy Bill Would Put New Restrictions On Employers


[1] The legislation will protect two main classes of people – employers/employees/job applicants & schools/students/student applicants. California will become the first state to enact such comprehensive social media privacy legislation – provided that Governor Brown signs both SB 1349 and AB 1844.

[2] California: First state to pass comprehensive social media privacy legislation

http://www.shearsocialmedia.com/2012/08/california-first-state-to-pass.html