According to Rule 795(d)(7) of the Supreme Court of Illinois' Minimum Continuing Legal Education Rules, authors who write “law-related articles in responsible legal journals or other legal sources” can claim MCLE credit for their work. The Rule states that “[a]n attorney may earn credit for writing law-related articles in responsible legal journals or other legal sources, published during the two-year reporting period, that deal primarily with matters related to the practice of law, professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues, civility, or ethical obligations of attorneys.” The Court's MCLE Rules are available at the MCLE Board's website.
Can authors claim CLE credit for the time they spend writing and researching articles for either The Illinois Bar Journal or an ISBA newsletter? The answer depends on whether: (1) The Illinois Bar Journal or ISBA newsletter qualifies as a “responsible legal journal or other legal source”; and (2) the article in question qualifies as a “law-related article” addressing one of the listed topics.
On the first issue, we believe The Illinois Bar Journal is a responsible legal journal and ISBA newsletters are responsible legal sources. On the second issue, each author needs to review Rule 795(d)(7) and, considering the content of the article, determine whether the article is a “law-related article” that “deal[s] primarily with matters related to the practice of law, professionalism, diversity issues, mental illness and addiction issues, civility, or ethical obligations of attorneys.” For example, a newsletter article on a recent fundraiser or networking event would not qualify for MCLE credit. Likewise, a non-substantive news-type feature, such as a newsletter article reporting on another speaker’s presentation or another attorney’s accomplishments, would not qualify for MCLE credit.
If your article was published in The Illinois Bar Journal or an ISBA newsletter and you choose to claim hours you spent writing it toward your MCLE requirement, please keep the following elements of Rule 795(d)(7) in mind:
- Authors must keep contemporaneous records of the time they spend preparing an article.
- Authors can earn CLE credit for the actual number of hours spent researching and writing a qualifying article, but – quoting the court’s Rule 795(d)(7)(iii) – “the maximum number of credits that may be earned during any two-year reporting period on a single publication is half the maximum CLE hours required for that reporting period.”
- Authors can only earn credits for the reporting period in which an article was published, regardless of when it was written.
- Republication of any article entitles the author to no additional CLE credits unless he or she made substantial revisions or additions.
For more information, visit the MCLE Board's website.