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Minnesota Supreme Court Eases CLE Rules

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a petition that will ease regulatory burdens on lawyers. Every three years, attorneys in Minnesota need to finish 45 credit hours of continuing legal education (CLE) courses to maintain their licenses. Even though on-demand CLEs are more convenient, relevant, affordable and numerous than in-person CLEs and live-webcast CLEs, the justices capped on-demand CLE courses at 15 hours.

Although the petition was first filed by the Institute for Justice and lawyers from four other firms in August 2019, as the Minnesota Supreme Court noted, “access to legal programming and legal services has changed substantially,” with the cap suspended amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Under Tuesday’s order, the CLE cap will be doubled to 30 credit hours starting with lawyers (CLE Cycle 1) whose reporting period starts on July 1, 2021, and will be fully scrapped with those same lawyers starting on July 1, in 2024.

Recognizing the technological advancements, the court saw “no reason to expect a decline in the state of Minnesota CLE’s system simply because 100 percent of credit hours can be secured in one format–on demand programming-rather than another format, i.e., live programming.”

“The court’s decision eventually will allow all Minnesota attorneys, particularly those working in out-state Minnesota, more flexibility in how they earn CLE credits,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Jaimie Cavanaugh, who argued for the petition last January. “Over the last nine months, most of the legal profession has been forced to meet the demands on their clients by working remotely. It’s fitting that attorneys finally will be allowed to meet all their CLE credits online and on-demand too.”

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