Effective September 29, 2005, the Illinois Supreme Court approved the Rule 790 series on Minimum Continuing Legal Education [MCLE].
Attorneys shall report on MCLE activities in two-year periods that commence on July 1, 2006. Lawyers will be divided into two groups for reporting period purposes, based upon the initial letter of the last name. The table below shows the number of hours required per reporting period:
Initial Letter of
Attorney’s Last Name
A-M 7/1/06 - 6/30/08 20
7/1/08 - 6/30/10 24
7/1/10 - 6/30/12 30
(and every even
N-Z 7/1/07 - 6/30/09 20
7/1/09 - 6/30/11 24
7/1/11 - 6/30/13 30
(and every odd
By May 1st prior to the end of the reporting period, the Director of the Illinois MCLE Board shall mail the attorney2 a certification form for completion by June 30th. The hours may be split in any manner within the two-year period. An attorney may carry over a maximum of ten hours earned in that period to the next one; except for Professional Responsibility hours (see below).
Credit hours are defined as 60 minutes, and are determined by the following formula:
[Total minutes of approved activity] Minus [Minutes for breaks] Divided by 60 = [Maximum CLE credit allowed]
The following are counted toward credit:
• Q & A periods
• Lectures or discussions during luncheon or dinner sessions of bar associations
The following are not counted for credit:
• Coffee breaks
• Introductory and closing remarks
• Keynote speeches
• Business meetings
Professional Responsibility Requirement
A minimum of 4 of the 20 total hours required shall be in professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues, civility, or legal ethics. These may be earned in standalone programs or as a "broken out" part of a substantive law program (i.e., a one-hour ethics presentation as part of a Civil Law seminar).
New Bar Admittees
Every attorney admitted to practice in Illinois after December 31, 2005 must complete a Basic Skills Course with at least 15 hours of instruction.3 This course must be completed within one year of IL bar admission. Courses shall be offered by CLE providers, including in-house program providers. They shall be offered around the state and at a reasonable cost.
"The course shall cover such topics as the jurisdiction of local courts, local court rules, filing requirements for various governmental agencies, how to draft pleadings and other documents, practice techniques and procedures under the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, client communications, use of trust accounts, required record keeping and other rudimentary elements of practice."4
New admittees shall be exempt from other MCLE requirements until completion of this course. The initial two-year reporting period will begin on the next July 1st of an even-numbered year for last names beginning with A-M, and the next July 1st of an odd-numbered year for lawyers whose last names begin with N-Z. Except for Professional Responsibility, new admittees may carry over a maximum of ten CLE activity hours, earned after completion of their Basic Skills course, into their first two-year reporting period.
Other MCLE Qualifying Activities
The MCLE Rules provide for alternatives to traditional CLE seminars. Following are qualifying activities:
• Bar Association Meetings. Attendance at bar association meetings where substantive law, professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues, civility, or legal ethics are discussed may qualify.
• Teaching CLE. Participants may earn credit for the first presentation, and at 50% for the next presentation. No further hours may be earned for additional presentations of the same materials. Preparation time at an approved CLE activity shall be counted at six times the actual presentation time. Authoring written materials for approved CLE activities shall qualify on the basis of actual preparation time, but subject to receiving no more than ten hours of credit in any two-year reporting period.
• Part-Time Teaching of Law Courses at an ABA-accredited law school, or teaching a law course at a university, college or community college. The teaching must involve significant intellectual, education or practical content. Presentations shall be counted at the full hour or fraction thereof for the initial presentation. A repeat presentation of the same materials shall be counted at one-half. No further hours may be earned for additional presentations of the same materials. Attorneys may earn credit by participating as a guest instructor, moderator or participant in a presentation meeting the overall guidelines for CLE courses or activities. Credit may be earned for serving as a judge at a law school moot court argument. Credit is not earned for appearing as a guest speaker before a law school assembly or group.
• Legal Writing. An attorney may earn credit for writing legal textbooks, casebooks, treatises and other scholarly legal books. Attorneys may also earn credit for writing law-related articles for legal journals or other legal sources – including the DCBA Brief — dealing with matters related to the practice of law, professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues, civility, or ethical obligations of attorneys.
• Other Training. Lawyers may also earn credit for training programs to provide pro bono services as well as Capital Litigation Trial Bar training.
The text of the new rules can be viewed on-line at www.state.il.us.court/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_VII.htm#790
2 The certification form will not be mailed to lawyers who are known to be exempt from MCLE (i.e., sitting judges, lawyers on active military duties, and other categories as outlined in Rule 791.
3This rule does not apply to attorneys who were admitted to Illinois after practicing in another state for at least one year.
4 Rule 793(c).
Glenda Berg Sharp has served as executive director of the DuPage County Bar Association since 2001. She received her B.A. from Purdue University, and earned her Certified Association Executive credential in January 2005. You may contact her at email@example.com.