Jan. 28, 2021 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has extended an order, requested by the State Bar of Wisconsin, that allows attorneys to obtain up to 30 continuing legal education (CLE) credits “on-demand" through Jan. 31, 2022, providing more stay-at-home CLE options amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Under CLE rules, lawyers must obtain a minimum of 30 hours of approved CLE during each two-year reporting period. A maximum of 15 CLE credits may be earned through a “repeated on-demand program” that can be accessed and watched anytime. Remaining CLE credits must be earned through live in-person seminars or live webcasts.
Last March, the Supreme Court issued an order – effective through Dec. 31, 2020 – noting that the public health emergency unfolding may impact lawyers’ ability to obtain CLE since many in-person programs are canceled or postponed.
The order allowed lawyers to obtain all 30 CLE credits on-demand, which gives lawyers more options to earn CLE.
The court’s recent order (Jan. 26, 2021) extends the previous order through the remainder of 2021, and through January 2022 (lawyers have an extra month to obtain and report CLE credits after a reporting period technically ends).
In-person State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® programming remains indefinitely suspended, but PINNACLE webcast replays and OnDemand seminars continue as scheduled.
The court's extension allows attorneys to tap on-demand offerings through State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® and other providers with one restriction. Lawyers must still obtain at least 3 ethics and professional responsibility (EPR) credits through live, online programs (not on-demand).
OnDemand CLE; Update on In-Person CLE
State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® has a vast library of OnDemand offerings, with hundreds of programs available. Check out the OnDemand Library.
Impact on Reinstatement and Suspension
Under the extension order, “ lawyers required to satisfy CLE requirements as a prerequisite to reinstatement, readmission, or reactivation may satisfy 100 percent of their required
CLE using on-demand programs for petitions, provided that make up credit requirements are completed on or before December 31, 2021,” excluding EPR credits.
In addition, any lawyer whose license to practice law may be suspended because the lawyer is unable to complete EPR credits. Either in-person or live online, may file a request for a waiver with the BBE under SCR 31.12.
Requirements for Late CLE Reporting
Lawyers report CLE credits to the BBE every two years. The order notes that there may be a delay before the BBE’s reporting system can accept late-filed attendance reports of on-demand courses in excess of the usual 15-credit rule.
Lawyers admitted to practice in an even-numbered year are required to file CLE reports by Feb. 1, 2021, for the 2019-20 reporting period.
In the case of late-filed electronic reports with more than 15 on-demand credits reported, the order directs filers to submit a statement of their request for CLE credit in writing, together with documentation of the on-demand courses for which credit is claimed.
The report is deemed filed upon receipt of the late fee. Questions about CLE reporting should be directed to the BBE, by gov bbe wicourts email or by phone at (608) 266-9760.
State Bar of Wisconsin Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The State Bar of Wisconsin has taken a number of measures to help reduce transmission of the coronavirus, including suspension of in-person CLE programming and in-person meetings of boards, committees, and other groups.
The State Bar’s coronavirus response page is updated periodically to keep members informed about changes to State Bar operations, and also includes information concerning the Wisconsin Court System’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19).