As every practicing Alabama attorney knows, with a few exceptions, if you want to remain in good standing you must get 12 hours (including 1 ethics hour) of continuing legal education every year. Special members, who are not subject to CLE requirements, and inactive members returning to active practice, however, were not required to do anything but pay their dues and jump back in.
Allowing people who have not been in practice for extended periods of time poses obvious risks to the public (not to mention to these lawyers, themselves) so in 2010 ASB President Alyce Spruell appointed a task force to evaluate whether the MCLE Rules should be changed to require lawyers returning to practice to hone their skills before resuming practice. As a result of its investigations the task force recommended, and on March 25, 2011 the ASB Board of Bar Commissioners adopted, a revised MCLE rule setting forth new educational requirements for those who have been out of active practice and wish to return.
2.C. An attorney who has not engaged in the private practice of law, or who has held a Special Membership, for a period in excess of one (1) year, shall be required to complete an equivalent number of MCLE hours, up to a maximum of 24 MCLE hours, prior to being authorized to resume the active practice of law.
The rule is pending before the Alabama Supreme Court and passage is expected in the near future. The new rule will not affect Special Members (law clerks, attorneys holding public office and members of the military) who are subject to the existing exemptions set out in MCLE Rule 2 or out-of-state attorneys who are in compliance with MCLE regulations in their home states.
A notice of the new rule will be included with each attorney’s annual license invoice, which will be mailed in mid-September, giving anyone who wants to resume practice the opportunity to do before the rule goes into effect in 2012.