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Policy on Personal and Practice Management Courses

The following policy statement on personal and practice management courses was established by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education at its meeting on October 4, 2005. Please contact Margot Millar, Executive Director, with any questions, at (302) 577-7040 or cle@state.de.us.

CLE Rules 6(B)(1) and (2) govern the approval of courses for continuing legal education credit. Courses and sessions denied credit for content are generally denied under one or both of these Rules, and many deal with topics which could be considered personal interest or practice management. To that end, this policy statement has been developed to assist attorneys and providers with determining the types of courses in these areas which may qualify.

Although CLE Rule 6(B)(2) allows credit in "law office management," the Commission has approved courses in this topic consistent with CLE Rule 6(B)(1), with the intent to "increase the participant's professional competence as a lawyer or a judge". The Commission has distinguished this objective from that of increasing the participant's competence as a business person, or in another capacity (as managing partner, or as a human being, etc.).

Therefore, practice management programs must focus on the substantive issues in running a law office and not the more general issues involved in running a business. The Commission may, in its discretion, approve topics such as supervision of non-attorneys, time management (if specifically geared toward the law office), legal research, dealing with books and records, and any other issue which, if improperly handled, could result in malpractice, disciplinary censure, or client dissatisfaction. The Commission will not approve topics such as marketing (including developing a firm website), networking/rainmaking, becoming involved in the community, balancing work and home life, alternative career choices, developing a business plan/selling a law practice, or any other issue, which, if neglected, would result only in loss of profit or diminished personal gratification.

In-house programs held by law firms, legal departments of corporations, or agencies of government are examined with special scrutiny. If the course would qualify in a public setting, the Commission will grant in-house approval. If the course deals with issues germane only to the audience, further information may be required. Accreditable topics may include instructing new associates in firm procedures of conflicts of interest checks, or other matters relating to firm procedure with regard to the practice of law. Non-accreditable topics include those focused on the success of the firm, including compensation, performance ratings, and attracting clients.

On occasion, the Commission is asked to review courses which have profitability or personal interest as the overall focus of the seminar, but which include sessions within the seminar which may qualify for credit. In that case, the Commission may, in its discretion, approve only portions of the program for credit. The Commission may also deny the provider application and instruct the provider to refer individual attorneys attending directly to us for credit review. If an attorney can demonstrate that a session or program which the Commission would otherwise deny has a practical focus in the attorney's specific practice, the Commission will reconsider credit for that attorney.