Bar News - February 15, 2017
ABA Connection: House Adopts Resolutions on MCLE Model Rules, Preserving the Rule of Law
By: Jennifer Parent
As the NH Bar’s association delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, the ABA’s policymaking body, I recently attended the ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami, Florida, to consider and vote on resolutions that came before the House.
After almost three years of study by a standing committee, the ABA House adopted new Model Rules of Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). The new rules replace the prior rules adopted by the House in 1988, which were subsequently amended. Resolution 106 highlighted that MCLE helps to maintain the public’s confidence in the legal profession and the rule of law, and promotes the fair administration of justice. The requirements safeguard the expectation that lawyers are competent regarding the law, legal and practice-oriented skills, standards and ethical obligations, and management of their practices. The changes also reflect the increasing mobility of lawyers, the advancement of technology, and the changing issues within our profession.
Of note, the ABA model rules provide for a requirement of one ethics and professionalism credit every year, one mental health and substance use disorders credit every three years, and one diversity and inclusion credit every three years. Accounting for the number of jurisdictions in which lawyers are now admitted to practice law, and considering the increasing adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), the new model rules allow for an exemption of MCLE credit in one state, if the lawyer has satisfied the MCLE requirements in the state where the lawyer’s principal office is located and can demonstrate compliance.
One of the resolutions before the ABA House that sparked conversation concerned a proposed amendment to the bar passage rates required by law schools under the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools. The proposed resolution would have revised the rules to require law schools to have at least 75 percent of the law school’s graduates in a calendar year, who sat for the bar exam, to have passed within two years of graduation. There were several groups in opposition. Some expressed concern that there had been no study as to any negative impacts on diversity. The resolution did not pass.
The ABA House also adopted resolutions upholding the rule of law and reaffirmed the ABA’s support of the establishment of laws, policies, and practices that ensure optimum access to the legal profession for refugees, asylum-seekers, torture victims, and others deserving humanitarian refuge.
Other resolutions adopted by the ABA House included proposals urging lawmakers to work with the legal profession to identify and remove legal barriers to veterans’ access to assistance, for states to adopt uniform laws for wage garnishment, the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act, and the Unsworn Declarations Act, as well as a resolution that urges government agencies and legislative bodies to review laws that address the luring, enticing, or intimidating of minors through the internet or other electronic means of communication.
View the list of resolutions before the ABA House.
Jennifer Parent is a director at McLane Middleton, where she also chairs the Litigation Department. She is the NHBA Association Delegate to ABA House of Delegates and a past president of the NHBA.