To the Council of Delegates:
The OSBA Board of Governors respectfully requests your favorable consideration of a proposed amendment to Rule X, Regulation 409.2 of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio to increase the number of hours from six to twelve for self-study (online CLE).
As part of Ohio’s Continuing Legal Education Requirement, lawyers may currently take up to six (6) hours of self-study courses as a part of their biennial requirement to take twenty four (24) hours of CLE. This is set forth in Rule X, Section 409 as below:
409.2 Not more than six (6) hours of CLE Credit for any biennial reporting period may be earned by an Attorney or Judge under this Regulation except as provided in Regulation 304.4.
Since 1998, the growth and popularity of online CLE has been dramatic. The Ohio State Bar Association has itself experienced significant growth in terms of the numbers of online CLE courses available to Ohio lawyers and the number of actual online courses lawyers are choosing to include as a part of their two year CLE commitment. The table below demonstrates the growth of online CLE as provided by the Ohio State Bar Association:
|Year ||No. of Online Courses Offered ||No. of Online OSBA CLE Hours Taken|
|1998 ||16 ||664|
|2001 ||52 ||6341|
These numbers indicate a tremendous growth in popularity for online CLE and can also be attributed to the even greater growth of Internet usage over this same time period. We believe that metro bar associations have seen similar demand increases for their own online offerings.
As a part of the Supreme Court’s requirement regarding online CLE offerings, a provider must demonstrate the attorney’s proficiency when taking a self-study course. This is set forth in regulation 409 as follows:
J) The Sponsor shall have a means by which it can identify the Attendees actually engaged in the Self-Study Activity;
(K) The Sponsor shall provide a means of verification of competency, such as a test;
(L) The Sponsor shall certify that the Attorney or Judge engaged in the Self-Study Activity has obtained the minimum competency and has actually participated in the Self-Study Activity.
The Ohio State Bar Association is in full support of this regulation, as it is the only part of the court’s rules regarding CLE that requires a demonstration of proficiency. This quality standard does not pertain to live seminars, thus creating the possibility of a higher standard for lawyers who choose to continue their education via an online seminar.
Advances in technology over the past five years will enable CLE providers to offer even more options to lawyers in terms of online courses. In the beginning, online courses were all text based and/or PowerPoint® programs with little or no audio, video, or integration with any other Web-based resources. Today, online courses can offer lawyers high quality programming that includes streaming video, audio, and integration of courses to online legal research materials.
Progress in the area of technology also provides improved mechanisms for assuring that lawyers are advancing through the online course at a reasonable pace, are present for the entire offering and can demonstrate proficiency at the completion of each course.
Increasing the allowance for self-study will provide Ohio lawyers with greater access to quality CLE. Certainly there is an abundance of quality live programs in Ohio’s major metropolitan areas, but Ohio is a diverse state with many remote areas. Lawyers practicing in one of Ohio’s many rural counties must travel great distances to participate in CLE offerings. Online CLE is available to all Ohio lawyers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In effect, online opportunities help to level the playing field for all lawyers in terms of access to quality CLE.
By expanding the self-study allowance, we believe that lawyers throughout Ohio will have more opportunities to participate in advanced programming through online opportunities that they can access from their desktops. Time, geography, and job limitations will no longer be factors for Ohio lawyers when it comes to continuing their legal education.
Through a recent survey of its members, the Ohio State Bar Association learned that nearly 100 percent of Ohio’s lawyers have access to the Internet. Seventy percent of Ohio lawyers who have access to the Internet are now traveling at speeds greater than dial-up … meaning they have cable access, T1 or even faster connections.
The adoption of this amendment will be of great benefit to all Ohio lawyers. Your favorable vote in support of it is appreciated.
Keith A. Ashmus, Cleveland
President, Ohio State Bar Association