Under the New York State CLE Program Rules you are exempt from New York’s CLE requirement if, during your biennial reporting cycle, you do not practice law in New York. 22 NYCRR § 1500.5(b)(1). Attorneys practice law pursuant to this section if, during the reporting period, they give legal advice or counsel to, or provide legal representation for, a particular body or individual in a particular situation in either the public or private sector.
The issue of whether you practice law in New York is one that you must determine, giving careful consideration to your specific activities throughout the reporting cycle. The CLE staff is not permitted to advise attorneys on whether their specific activities constitute the practice of law in New York.
Please note that all members of the New York Bar are presumed to be practicing law in New York unless otherwise shown; the burden of proof is on the individual attorney. 22 NYCRR § 1500.5(b)(1), New York State CLE Board Regulations and Guidelines § 4(C)(2).
If you are exempt under §1500.5(b)(1), you still must comply with CLE requirements to which you are subject in another jurisdiction in order to remain in good standing in New York. You will be asked to certify to your CLE status when you next submit an attorney registration form. One of the choices is to certify that you are exempt. To certify that you are exempt on the biennial attorney registration form, you must be exempt for your entire cycle. If you practice law in New York at any time during your reporting cycle, you are not exempt but you may have a prorated requirement, as outlined below.
Experienced attorneys who are exempt from the CLE requirement at the beginning of their biennial reporting cycle, and begin the practice of law in New York during the cycle must complete 1 CLE credit for each month of the reporting cycle during any part of which the attorney practices law in New York. The credit(s) may be in any category. Similarly, if an experienced attorney stops practicing law in New York during the biennial reporting cycle and becomes exempt from CLE requirements, and remains exempt through the end of the biennial reporting cycle, the attorney must complete 1 CLE credit, in any category of credit, for each month of the reporting cycle during any part of which the attorney practices law in New York.
For example, if an experienced attorney practices law in New York for the first two months of his/her reporting cycle and then ceases the practice of law in New York for the rest of the reporting cycle, the attorney will have a prorated requirement of 2 CLE credit hours, in any category, to be completed by the end of the reporting cycle. The attorney may then certify on the biennial attorney registration form that he/she has completed 2 CLE credits and is in full compliance with his/her CLE requirement.
Similar prorated requirements apply for newly admitted attorneys, who must complete 1.5 credits of transitional CLE credit, in any combination of categories, for every month during any part of which they practice law in New York during their first two years of admission to the Bar. These credits must be completed by the second anniversary of admission to the New York Bar.
Please note that any attorney who practices law at the beginning of a cycle and also at the end of a cycle is not eligible for a prorated CLE requirement. For example, if an attorney’s reporting cycle runs from August 2002 through August 2004 and the attorney practices law in New York in August 2002, September 2002 and August 2004, the attorney is responsible for all credits for that cycle, not a prorated requirement, since the attorney practiced law in New York at the beginning of the cycle (August 2002) and at the end of the cycle (August 2004).
Attorneys who permanently cease the practice of law in New York while commencing or continuing the practice of law in another jurisdiction should refer to sections 1500.12(f)(4) and 1500.22(n)(4) of the Program Rules.
Do not submit any documentation of your compliance and/or exemption to the CLE Board; however, retain such documentation for a period of at least four years, in case you are audited. You need not request an exemption; it is up to you to determine whether or not you qualify for an exemption under the Rules and Regulations.
Please further note that an exemption from the CLE requirements affects neither an attorney's good standing with the New York Bar, nor the attorney's ability to resume the practice of law in New York at a later date.