Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education
30 S. Meridian St. Suite 875
Indianapolis, IN 46204
In 1986, Indiana became the 18th state to require attorneys to receive Continuing Legal Education (CLE). This was far from the beginning of CLE in Indiana, however. ICLEF, the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, had already been in existence since 1964, as a CLE provider.
In 1984, an Indiana State Bar Association task force was created to investigate CLE in the other 17 mandatory CLE states. This task force drafted a CLE rule, which was passed by the ISBA House of Delegates and then tendered to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Supreme Court adopted this version of the mandatory continuing legal education rule for lawyers and judges and made it effective January 1, 1987. This rule was largely unchanged until major amendments were made effective in 1997.
The founding CLE Commissioners represented a wide spectrum of Indiana’s Bar. The Honorable Robert H. Staton of the Indiana Court of Appeals was the first chair of the Commission. Other members included:
These Commissioners were sworn in by the Indiana Supreme Court on November 25, 1986 and held their first meeting later that morning. At the time, there were approximately 10,500 practicing attorneys in the state. It was estimated that the original $10 per attorney assessment would raise $100,000 to $110,000 in start-up funds. Attorneys or education sponsors were also to pay the Commission $1.00 per credit hour.
The original rule had an exemption for newly admitted attorneys and allowed them to begin reporting CLE the 4th year after admission. While the CLE year is now based on the calendar year, originally, it ran from October 1 to September 30.
The Commission hired Anne Davidson from the Clerk’s office to be the Secretary for the office. (Ms. Davidson is now the Office Manager and the Mediation Services Coordinator.) The first CLE office was located at 1800 North Meridian in Indianapolis. It later moved to 101 West Ohio (above the former Greyhound Bus station). In 1994, the CLE Commission moved to the South Tower of the National City Center (the Hyatt). As of January 1, 2008, the office is now located at 30 South Meridian (the old L.S. Ayres’ Men’s Store location).
The first meeting at which course accreditations were considered was March 20, 1987. There was a lot to talk about. The transcript, recorded by a Court Reporter, is 95 pages long.
In the early days, the Commission made accreditation decisions for all courses. A “credit committee” first reviewed each and every course and then made a recommendation to the full Commission.
At a meeting March 3, 1988, the Commission announced that the Indiana Supreme Court had chosen Merrill Moores as the Commission’s first Executive Director from a list of three candidates sent from the Executive Committee. Mr. Moores served until 1991. Terri Newman-Worrell served as Executive Director from 1991 to March 1994. Executive Director Julia Orzeske was hired in March, 1994 and served until March 2016. On March 1, 2016 Bradley Skolnik was named Interim Executive Director.
At the outset, the Commission was not responsible for handling funds. All monies were paid to and disbursed from the Clerk’s office. In 1994, the Indiana Supreme Court made the Commission directly responsible for handling its own funds.
Originally, the Commission’s only work was accreditation of CLE and regulation of attorney CLE requirements at traditional classroom courses. This soon changed as new areas of responsibility were added to the Commission’s charge. A 1995 Supreme Court order created an ethics requirement. In 1997, Specialization and Mediation were added to the Commission’s job description. The 1997 amendments also created non-legal subject matter courses, allowing attorneys for the first time to receive credit for non-legal courses which enhance their competence. In 1998, an amendment eliminated the three-year exemption for newly admitted attorneys, adding many more attorneys to the Commission’s database. Newly admitted attorneys were also required to complete an Applied Professionalism Course within their first three-year cycle. A 2005 amendment allowed attorneys to receive credit through distance education. Effective January 1, 2011, the Commission now regulates Continuing Judicial Education (CJE) separately from CLE. As of January 1, 2015, the Commission will begin charging application fees from some non-approved sponsors and late processing fees from attorneys and sponsors.
The Commission now keeps records for nearly 300 specialist listings1, about 1300 mediators and 18,000 attorneys. The specialization function involves an in-depth review of independent certifying organizations’ (ICOs) financial and governing status, certification requirements for attorneys, the specialization exams and appeal policies.
The Commission interacts with an advisory panel of practitioners, professors, deans and judges who review the exams. A psychometrician gives an opinion and recommendation as to whether a specialty exam is a reliable and valid measure of the knowledge being tested.
As of 2016, the Commission has accredited four Independent Certifying Organizations (ICOs) in 9 practice areas.
Attorney Joy Tolbert provides staff assistance and support to the Commission on issues of specialization.
In the area of mediation, the Commission determines which mediators should be eligible for registration on the list of Court Approved Mediators. The original registry, published in 1997, had listings for 235 civil mediators and 110 domestic relations mediators. The Commission now has listings for approximately 600 civil mediators and approximately 600 domestic relations mediators. Each of these mediators has a continuing mediation education requirement, which the Commission also regulates.
In fiscal year 2015-2016, the Commission reviewed about 13,000 courses. In 1987,the first year for which statistics were available, the Commission reviewed 687 courses.
The Commission office has gone from one staff member in 1986 (Anne Davidson) to six. It now includes four administrative assistants (Pam Bush, Lana James, Garrett Dickerson and Therese Meilinger); an office manager (Anne Davidson); and an attorney for specialization and other legal duties (Joy Tolbert).
The Commission still has eleven members, but has added a liaison from the Judges’ ADR Committee of the Judicial Conference (the Honorable David Avery, the current Chair of that Committee). Commission members are appointed by the Indiana Supreme Court from around the state. The Supreme Court has demonstrated its commitment to practice, geographic, racial and gender diversity through its Commission appointments. The Commission even has two non-attorney members: Howard Mzumara, PhD, a university professor and psychometrician and Catherine Springer, the former Education Director for the Indiana Judicial Center.
A list of ICCLE Commissioners and officers can be found at: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/cle/2341.htm
The Indiana Supreme Court does not direct the day-to-day activities of the Commission. It has enabled the Commission to regulate by enacting Admission and Discipline Rules 28, 29 and 30 and the Indiana Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules. Its appointees to the Commission interpret these rules and enact policies that assist the Executive Director in her management of the Commission and regulation of attorney and judicial education, specialization and the mediation registry. The Commission is grateful for the support and encouragement it receives from the Court.
In its 30 year history, the Commission has grown from a tiny office with fledgling responsibilities to a professional organization that is viewed as a leader in several regulatory areas. As we examine the past and the growth patterns of the Commission’s responsibilities we find it is reasonable to assume the Indiana attorney, mediator and specialist population will double in the next fifteen to twenty years. It is also reasonable to assume the Commission may develop new areas of responsibility.
To address these growing challenges, Commission members continue to stay apprised of changes in the practice and encourage the educational processes to address these changes. As we complete our third decade, the Commission strives to remain responsive to the needs of the public, the bar and the Court as it continues to focus on improving attorney competence through education and specialty certification and on improving mediator competence through education and registration.