Friday, February 21, 2014

FORTHCOMING CHANGES TO RULES OF ETHICS



Important News on CLE Requirement Changes:
Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board Announces Increases in Ethics Requirement and Distance Learning Options


February 4, 2014 - The Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board has announced changes in rules and regulations that will permit more credits to be earned via distance learning, and will increase the annual ethics requirement.

By Supreme Court Order, Pa.R.C.L.E. Rule 108 (e) has been changed to increase the amount of credits lawyers may earn via alternate delivery methods from four (4) to six (6) credits annually. The board also adopted a regulation change to increase the ethics component of the annual CLE requirement from one (1) to two (2) credit hours. The total number of CLE credits required annually will remain 12 hours.

The amendments to the rules and regulations will take effect with CLE compliance periods that have requirement deadlines in 2015. 


The ethics credit increase marks the first significant modification to the CLE requirement since 1996 when the total requirement expanded from nine credits to twelve. The new provisions for distance learning will provide lawyers the option of completing up to half of their annual requirement through distance learning and computer-based education. 

 

Effective Dates of CLE Requirement Changes
by Compliance Group:
• Group 1:
May 1, 2014 - April 30, 2015
• Group 2:
September 1, 2014 - August 31, 2015
• Group 3:
January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2015



The following new judicial ethics rules set forth in the recently revised Code of Judicial Conduct (effective 7/1/14), may also be of interest to litigators:
 
 (1) Rule 2.6(B), Ensuring the Right to Be Heard: "A judge may encourage parties to a proceeding and their lawyers to settle matters in dispute but shall not act in a manner that coerces any party into settlement."

 
(2) Rule 2.9(A)(4), Ex parte Communications: "A judge may, with the consent of the parties, confer separately with the parties and their lawyers in an effort to settle matters pending before the judge."

 
(3) Rule 2.11(A)(4), Disqualification: "A judge shall disqualify" if "[t]he judge knows or learns that a party, a party's lawyer, or the law firm of a party's lawyer has made a direct or indirect contribution(s) to the judge's campaign in an amount that would raise a reasonable concern about the fairness or impartiality of the judge's consideration of a case involving the party, the party's lawyer, or the law firm of the party's lawyer."

 
(4) Rule 2.14, Disability and Impairment: "A judge having a reasonable belief that the performance of a lawyer or another judge is impaired by drugs or alcohol, or by a mental, emotional, or physical condition, shall take appropriate action, which may include a confidential referral to a lawyer or judicial assistance program."


I send thanks to Attorney Paul Oven of the Moosic, PA office of Dougherty, Leventhal & Price for bringing the CLE changes noted above to my attention.

Source of image: www.ethics.tamu.edu


 

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