500 Course Approval
5.01 COURSE APPROVAL ADMINISTRATION
(a) Application for Course Accreditation. To apply for course accreditation, the sponsoring organization shall submit an application to include, but not limited to, a course description, an outline of all topics addressed, a detailed time schedule, and the requisite accreditation fee(s). Copies of any course materials, i.e. books, audio or video tapes or handouts included in the course presentation may be requested.
(b) Incomplete Applications. A course will not be evaluated if the sponsor does not submit all of the information required in the application or meet the requirements set forth in these policies. Incomplete applications will be returned to the sponsor with a request for the necessary information.
(c) Submission Deadline. An application for course accreditation must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the first scheduled presentation or be deemed late and subject to a late fee. The fee amount shall be set by the budget committee of the board of governors.
(d) Rush Processing. Applications for course accreditation submitted with a rush fee will be processed within 5 days of receipt. The fee amount shall be set by the budget committee of the board of governors. If, pursuant to policy 5.01(h), the staff refers the course to the BLSE for review but processing cannot be completed within 10 days, the applicant’s rush fee will be returned and the course will be approved in accordance with policy 5.01(c).
(e) Course Accreditation Fees. Courses submitted for accreditation shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee. The fee amounts as to each of the following shall be set by the budget committee of the board of governors:
(1) state bar associations
(2) local bar associations;
(3) federal, state, and local governmental agencies and law firms that offer courses for employee attorneys at no cost to the attendees
(4) sponsors that offer courses at no cost to attendees; and,
(5) all other sponsors.
(f) Co-sponsorship. A course sponsored by 2 or more organizations shall not be eligible for accreditation at no charge unless all sponsoring organizations meet the criteria for accreditation at no charge.
(g) Revenue and Expense Distribution. All accreditation fee revenue and all related expenses shall be allocated and charged to the course approval cost center. Two-thirds of the year end net profits shall be distributed to the CLER program and one-third to the certification program.
(h) Authority of Staff. Staff shall evaluate all submissions for accreditation and grant or deny credit in accordance with BLSE policies and/or certification committee policies approved by the BLSE. Staff shall refer novel questions or matters of first impression to a certification committee and/or the BLSE. The BLSE may waive any policy if it finds the waiver would be in the best interest of the program.
(i) Notice of Accreditation. If accreditation is granted, staff shall advise the course sponsor of the assigned course number, credit hours awarded, the categories to which the credit hours may be applied, and the accreditation period and expiration date. If accreditation is not granted, staff shall notify the sponsor of the basis for such determination.
(j) Accreditation Period. The accreditation period of a course with multiple dates and locations shall not exceed 18 months from the date of the first course offering.
(k) Audio or Video Tapes, CDs, DVDs, and On-Line Courses.
(1) Continuing legal education credit for study involving audio or video tapes, CDs, DVDs, or on-line courses may be given in the same manner as for live CLE courses.
(2) The "life" of an audio-video tape, CD, DVD, or on-line course is 18 months. Upon reapplication, that period may be extended if the subject matter represents the current status of the subject matter covered.
(l) Interactive CLE Activities. A CLE activity that allows attorneys to participate or interact with one another and thereby fosters the free exchange of information and ideas is creditable. Interactive CLE credit may be claimed for activities in which attorneys participate through some type of electronic medium, such as:
(1) teleconferencing seminars; or
(2) other CLE activities as may be developed through advanced technology.
5.02 MEMBER SUBMISSIONS FOR COURSE EVALUATION AND CREDIT
A member may request credit for a course which has not been previously accredited. This policy is intended to apply only to courses submitted by members requesting credit hours toward their own CLER requirement. A member seeking accreditation of a course in order for other members to claim credit hours must submit the course pursuant to policy 5.01.
(a) Submission Deadline. A member’s application for course evaluation and credit must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the member’s CLER reporting deadline for which credit is requested. If submitted timely, there is no fee.
(b) Processing Fee. A member who fails to submit an application for course evaluation and credit in accordance with policy 5.02(a) must pay a processing fee. The fee amount shall be set by the budget committee of the board of governors.
5.03 COURSE ACCREDITATION STANDARDS
(a) Guidelines. Accreditation shall be granted for CLE activities that:
(1) have significant intellectual or practical content and are designed to increase or maintain the attorney’s professional competence as a lawyer;
(2) constitute an organized program of learning dealing with matters directly related to the categories detailed in policy 5.04; and
(3) have materials that are prepared and activities conducted by an individual or group qualified by practical or academic experience in a setting physically suitable to the educational activity of the program. High quality and carefully prepared written materials should be distributed to all attendees at or before the time the CLE activity is conducted. It is recognized that written materials are not suitable or readily available for some types of subjects; the absence of written materials for distribution should, however, be an exception.
(b) Level of activity.
(1) Advanced. An advanced CLE course is designed for the attorney who practices primarily in the subject matter of the course.
(2) Intermediate. An intermediate CLE course is designed for the attorney experienced in the subject matter, but not necessarily at an advanced level. A survey course in which there have been recent, substantial changes will be deemed intermediate. In an intermediate course, some segment may be low intermediate or basic, and others high intermediate or advanced. In those instances, the course taken as a whole will be considered intermediate.
(3) Basic. A basic CLE course is designed for the attorney with no experience or limited experience in the area of law with which the course deals. A survey course will be considered basic unless there are recent, significant changes in the law.
5.04 COURSE AND CREDIT APPROVAL
(a) Credit Calculation. Fifty minutes of course time is equivalent to 1 credit hour unless otherwise stated in this rule. A course must be at least 25 minutes in length to qualify for credit.
(b) Courses for Nonlawyers. A course designed for participants other than attorneys shall receive less than full credit.
(c) Courses on Nonlaw Subjects. A course devoted to a non-legal subject, including but not limited to the courses listed in policy 5.04(g), (j), and (k), may be approved if the applicant can demonstrate that the course will enhance the proficiency of a lawyer in the performance of legal services. The applicant must specify in the application how lawyer proficiency is enhanced.
(d) Demonstrations and Moot Court. Trial and appeal demonstrations and moot court participation may be given up to 3 credit hours for each 50 minutes of participation.
(e) Law Office Management and Economics. Credit may be awarded for any law office economics seminar. No more than 5 credit hours may be awarded for any 1 course, regardless of length.
(f) Computer Training. Credit may be awarded for computer training courses. No more than 5 credit hours may be awarded for any 1 course, regardless of length.
(g) Ethics. Credit may be awarded for courses that explore and address standards of conduct in the legal profession. Courses should also include aspirations that surpass ordinary expectations to further promote the ideals and goals of professionalism, such as:
(1) the independence of the lawyer in the context of the lawyer-client relationship;
(2) the conflict between duty to client and duty to the system of justice;
(3) the conflict in the duty to the client versus the duty to the other lawyer;
(4) the responsibility of the lawyer to employ effective client communications and client relations skills in order to increase service to the client and foster understanding of expectations of the representation, including accessibility of the lawyer and agreement as to fees;
(5) the lawyer's responsibilities as an officer of the court;
(6) misuse and abuse of discovery and litigation;
(7) the lawyer's responsibility to perceive and protect the image of the profession;
(8) the responsibility of the lawyer to the public generally and to public service; and
(9) the duty of the lawyer to be informed about all forms of dispute resolution and to counsel clients accordingly.
(h) Substance Abuse. Credit may be awarded for courses designed to enhance awareness and understanding of the illnesses of substance abuse and dependence.
(1) Topics eligible for credit in this category include education regarding the mechanisms involved in substance abuse and dependence disorders as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of The American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV).
(2) Instruction may address the correlation between substance abuse/dependence disorders and professional misconduct; the correlation between substance abuse/dependence disorders and malpractice and disciplinary actions; identification of the signs and symptoms of substance abuse/dependence disorders; types of intervention and treatment for substance abuse/dependency disorders among attorneys, including the lawyer assistance program available to Florida legal professionals.
(i) Self-Improvement Courses. Credit may be awarded for self-improvement courses that are designed to enhance human relations skills, offer practical assistance on how better to relate to clients, witnesses and adversaries, or promote courtesy and thoughtfulness in the legal profession. No more than 5 credit hours may be awarded any 1 course, regardless of length.
(j) Stress Management. Credit may be awarded for courses designed to teach stress management skills and techniques to attorneys.
(1) No more than 1 credit hour may be awarded for each 150-minute block of lecture time.
(2) No more than 5 credit hours may be awarded for any 1 course, regardless of length.
(k) Mental Illness. Credit may be awarded for courses designed to enhance awareness and understanding of mental illness.
(1) Topics eligible for credit in this category include depression, manic-depression (bipolar disorder), schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorders.
(2) Instruction shall also address the correlation among mental illness, addiction, or substance abuse due to “self medication;” the prevention of suicide, aggressive behavior, criminal activities, and underachievement through prompt and faithful medical treatment; and, the progressive deterioration of the brain and/or the increase in the severity of symptoms and accompanying problematic behaviors, without proper medical treatment.
(l) Laws of Other States.
(1) Credit may be awarded for courses covering laws or procedures of another state or territory of the United States. The number of hours to be awarded shall be determined on a case-by-case basis.
(2) Foreign legal tours may be awarded up to 10 credit hours if the applicant can demonstrate how the activity enhanced the applicant’s proficiency in the practice of law. The applicant must specify in the application how lawyer proficiency is enhanced.
(m) Legal Drafting. Courses on legal drafting may be awarded credit hours if the applicant can demonstrate the course content reasonably relates to the preparation of legal documents. The number of hours to be awarded shall be determined on a case-by-case basis.
(n) Accreditation by a State Bar. Continuing legal education credit granted by a state bar may be accepted provided the CLE activity meets the criteria for accreditation established by the 500 series of the BLSE policies. The BLSE may adjust credit in accordance with the 500 series of its policies.
(o) Self-assessment Courses. Self-assessment or self-study courses directly related to the practice of law that include an examination to be returned and graded by the sponsor may be awarded CLE credit. The number of hours to be awarded shall be determined on a case-by-case basis.
(p) College and University Courses.
(1) Approved law school and graduate law courses shall entitle an attorney to receive credit as follows:
(a) 2 credit hours for each quarter hour assigned to the course; or,
(b) 3 credit hours for each semester hour assigned to the course.
(2) Undergraduate law courses and all other college and university courses shall only be eligible for credit it they qualify under another section of these policies.
5.05 CREDIT FOR OTHER CLE ACTIVITIES
(1) Satisfactory performance as a lecturer in an approved CLE seminar may entitle an attorney to credit.
(2) The maximum credit which may be awarded shall be calculated based upon the presentation time as follows:
(a) attorneys who lecture at basic seminars may receive up to 3 credit hours for each 50 minutes of lecture time;
(b) attorneys who lecture at an intermediate or advanced seminar may receive up to 5 credit hours for each 50 minutes of lecture time. Additional credit for extraordinary effort will be handled on a case-by-case basis;
(c) attorneys who lecture at advanced seminars may receive up to 7.5 credit hours for each 50 minutes of lecture time. Additional credit for extraordinary effort may be awarded and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
(3) Attorneys who repeat a lecture at 1 or more locations are not entitled to additional credit.
(4) Attorneys who participate as a panel member or group discussion leader in a workshop may receive up to 3 credit hours for each 50 minutes of participation in an intermediate or advanced seminar or 2 credit hours for each 50 minutes of participation in a basic seminar. Attorneys who repeat performances at 1 or more locations are not entitled to additional credit.
(5) Attorneys who serve as a CLE program steering committee chair, co-chair, or course moderator are not entitled to credit. Introductory and welcoming remarks are also ineligible for credit.
(6) Attorneys who prepare a lecture outline for a CLE presentation are not entitled to additional credit beyond that granted for delivery of the lecture.
(1) Attorneys who teach in approved law school and graduate law courses may receive up to 4 credit hours for each quarter hour assigned to the course or up to 5 credit hours for each semester hour assigned to the course.
(2) Attorneys who teach undergraduate law courses and any other college or university course shall be eligible for credit if such course qualifies for credit under another section of these policies.
(3) Attorneys who repeat teaching a course during the attorney's CLER reporting cycle are not entitled to additional credit.
(1) Attorneys who write articles, books, and chapters in books may receive credit when the material is accepted for publication in a professional publication or journal.
(2) Credit shall be based on the time devoted to preparation, quality, originality, and scope of publication. No single publication approved for credit may exceed 50% of the total hours required for CLER compliance.
(3) Where a publication has more than 1 author, credit may be awarded to each author or divided among them in a manner consistent with the facts presented by all the authors.
(4) Up to 10 credit hours may be awarded for the preparation of Florida bar examination questions.
(5) CLE publications steering committee members may receive up to 10 credit hours for their work. Credit shall be determined based upon consideration of the staff editor’s recommendation.
(d) Standing Committee Participation.
(1) Generally. Continuing legal education credit shall not be awarded for ethics, standing rules or general committee participation, unless otherwise provided elsewhere in these policies.
(2) Credit For Grievance Committee Service. Grievance committee members shall receive 5 ethics credit hours in a 3-year CLER reporting cycle for their participation.
(3) Credit For Florida Bar Grievance Mediation Program. A program mediator who participates in mediation or co-mediation under The Florida Bar Grievance Mediation Program may request and receive 1 credit hour in the areas of ethics and professionalism for each 50 minutes devoted to the mediation(s), provided the maximum amount of credit received does not exceed 5 credit hours in a CLER reporting cycle.
(e) Legislative Service. Continuing legal education credit will be given for service as a state or federal legislator at the rate of 10 general credit hours and 2 ethics credit hours for each full year of service during the applicable 3-year CLER reporting cycle.
(f) Executive Branch Service. Continuing legal education credit will be given for service as a Florida governor, lieutenant governor, or as a member of the Florida cabinet at the rate of 10 general credit hours and 2 ethics credit hours for each full year of service during the applicable 3-year CLER reporting cycle. Service as an executive branch officer of another state will be reviewed for continuing legal education credit on a case-by-case basis.
(g) Justice Teaching Classroom Presentations. To support the Supreme Court of Florida's initiative to advance an understanding of Florida's justice system among elementary, middle school, and high school students, continuing legal education credit will be given for Justice Teaching classroom presentations. For each presentation, a member shall receive 1 general credit hour. No more than 5 credit hours for this activity may be claimed during a member's 3-year CLER reporting cycle.
(h) Adult Civics Teaching Presentations. To support The Florida Bar's initiative to teach the fundamentals of government and the courts to adult civic and community groups through its "Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education" program, continuing legal education credit will be given for presentations. For each presentation, a member shall receive 1 ethics credit hour. No more than 3 credit hours for this activity may be claimed during a member's 3-year CLER reporting cycle.
5.06 ACCREDITATION REVOCATION
CLE credit may be rescinded by the BLSE if it is determined that the course content or speaker credentials do not reflect the accreditation standards set forth elsewhere in these policies. For example, credit awarded to courses sponsored or delivered by speakers with court-imposed disciplinary sanctions may be revoked.
5.07 COMPLIMENTARY CLE
To assist members in fulfilling the CLE requirement, The Florida Bar shall provide 10 hours of approved CLE material to each county law library or voluntary bar association in Florida each year, without charge or cost, and these recipients shall make the material available to all members without charge to such member(s). A copy shall also be provided without charge or cost to out-of-state bar associations, provided the out-of-state bar association requests the CLE and agrees to provide the CLE at no cost to members of The Florida Bar.