New York CLE providers must be able to independently verify an attorney’s completion of a CLE course or program before issuing a certificate of attendance. Whether a provider offers a live, traditional classroom-format program or a nontraditional-format program (DVD, webinar, online, teleconference, etc.), the provider must have procedures in place to verify an attorney’s completion of a program without relying solely on statements made by the participating attorney or on a record of log-in and log-out times of participants. Only after a provider has independently verified that an attorney has attended or otherwise participated in the program, may a certificate of attendance be issued.
The provider of a live, traditional classroom-format program may, for example, use a monitored sign-in/sign-out sheet to verify an attorney’s completion of the program. Likewise, for any program format (DVD, teleconference, webcast, for example) where the participants are seated together in a group, attendance is often verified by having the attendees sign in and sign out.
If attorneys may listen to or view a program individually (as opposed to participating in a group setting) the provider must design an appropriate attendance verification procedure. For example, an attorney who individually views a DVD course may be required to report back to the CLE provider, using a form such as an affirmation with course code, an undisclosed number of course codes that are spoken and/or displayed on the DVD at random times; before issuing a certificate of attendance, the provider would verify that the attorney affirmed completion of the course and accurately reported all course codes on the form. At a minimum, there should be a separate code at least every 50 minutes of a presentation. (For a 50-minute course using only one code, that code should be placed 5-10 minutes before the end of the program.)
As a further example, a provider of online programs might use pop-up boxes to verify that an attorney has completed an entire program. For example, the participating attorney might be given five seconds to respond to the pop-up question, “Are you still there?,” which would appear periodically on the screen. A certificate of attendance would be issued only after the provider had established that the attorney responded to all pop-up questions within the allotted time.
Although neither an attorney affirmation nor a record of log-in and log-out times by itself is sufficient verification of completion, either or both may be used to strengthen the verification method. For example, in addition to the primary attendance verification method, such as pop-up boxes, the CLE provider might require that the participating attorney also affirm that he or she watched or listened to the entire program. Similarly, if completion of a webinar is verified by the announcement of a code, or codes, during the program, the CLE provider might confirm, in addition to the attorney’s accurate reporting of the code(s), that the attendee was logged in to the webinar for its full length before issuing credit.
The CLE Board will consider for approval any reliable method of independent sponsor verification of an attorney’s completion of a CLE course.