The Texas Supreme Court issued an order dated April 28, 2015, that amended Article XII of the State Bar Rules to eliminate the MCLE exemption for emeritus attorneys. As of June 1, 2017, emeritus members are required to comply with MCLE reporting requirements. FAQs Why was the MCLE exemption for emeritus attorneys removed? The recommendation to remove the MCLE emeritus exemption came from the State Bar Task Force on Aging Lawyer Issues. The MCLE emeritus exemption was removed to ensure that all active practicing attorneys remain current in the law. The recommendation was approved by the State Bar MCLE Committee and then by the State Bar Board of Directors and the Texas Supreme Court. Are current emeritus members “grandfathered” and exempt from the new requirements? No. When does the MCLE requirement for emeritus attorneys become effective? The MCLE requirement applies to compliance years starting on or after June 1, 2016. Previously exempt attorneys may claim credit for CLE completed within 12 months immediately preceding the first compliance year beginning on or after June 1, 2016, provided that these CLE hours have not been used for compliance in a prior year. What if I am retired and no longer practice law, or I practice only for family? Attorneys who no longer practice law may claim MCLE non-practicing status or inactive membership status. To be eligible for either status as an option for MCLE compliance, an attorney must be non-practicing or inactive during the entire MCLE compliance year. Members who practice law at the beginning of a compliance year and later change to inactive status are not eligible for an exemption but may defer their MCLE requirements. Members who practice law only for family members may claim the MCLE non-practicing status, but must remain on an active membership status. To request inactive membership status, contact the Membership Department at email@example.com or (800) 204-2222, ext. 1383. To request MCLE non-practicing status, contact the MCLE Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 204-2222, ext. 1806. What is the difference between MCLE non-practicing status and inactive membership status? Either status will exempt an attorney from MCLE requirements. However, members who request inactive membership status are ineligible to vote in State Bar elections. Members who request MCLE non-practicing status are considered active members of the State Bar, can continue to vote in State Bar elections, but do not need to complete the yearly 15-hour MCLE requirement. What if I am ill, disabled, or unable to travel to MCLE courses? Travel and attendance at live CLE is not required. All MCLE hours can be completed through approved webinars, teleconferences, DVDs, and downloadable programs. Hardship exemptions and extensions may be available for those who have experienced medical or other extraordinary hardship during the compliance year. Contact MCLE staff for information on applying for an extension or hardship exemption. Are there low-cost CLE options for those on a fixed income? Yes. There are a variety of low-cost and free options available. TexasBarCLE offers a limited number of scholarships to attend a live course, video replay, archived online class, or webcast, or to subscribe to the Online Library; go to texasbarcle.com/scholarship for details. Also, MCLE staff can help with finding suitable CLE, or attorneys can use the course search site at texasbar.com/coursesearch.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.