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VSB seeks comment on CLE guidance

The Virginia State Bar is looking for comments on proposed changes to its guidance on requirements for written materials that must accompany continuing legal education programs.

The proposed changes are intended to improve the timeliness and quality of written CLE materials, the bar said. The changes specifically address the use of PowerPoint presentations.

The VSB’s Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board has posted the proposed changes online at http://www.vsb.org/site/news/item/prop_mcle_standards_2017.

The changes state that, regardless of whether a CLE program uses lectures or hands-on skill training, “high quality instructional materials must be provided.” The materials must be “readable, arranged in agenda order, and labelled or bookmarked by presentation session.”

The proposed amended MCLE Opinion #14 states that an article written by a presenter directly on point to the presentation may satisfy the requirement for materials that are prepared specifically for the course.

But more generic authority would not meet the test under the opinion. “A distribution of copies of statutes, regulations, cases, briefs, pleadings, motions or compilation of articles and informational resources alone will not meet the requirement of high quality written materials,” the proposed new language reads.

Presentation slides – such as those in PowerPoint – may satisfy the requirement for written materials if provided before the presentation, added language states.

If a presenter is just handing out a list of topic headings, “That’s not going to do it,” said Len Heath, chair of the MCLE Board. “I think Virginia is known for being pretty strict on our written materials,” he added.

The proposed revisions also add that the written materials requirement minimizes the need for attendees to take extensive notes, allowing them to focus attention on the presentation.

Comments or questions may be submitted by June 1 to VSB Director of Member Compliance and MCLE Gale Cartwright at cartwright@vsb.org.