New Rhode Island Attorney Requirements
Bridge the Gap Program
Q. Are there special requirements for newly-licensed attorneys?
Yes. If you were admitted on or after January 1, 2011, you must complete the Bridge the Gap program. The program must be taken by the end of the first, full Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) calendar year after the attorney is admitted to the Rhode Island Bar. On or before June 30th of that MCLE calendar year, each attorney shall file proof of attendance with the MCLE Commission in such form as the Commission shall prescribe, documenting compliance with this requirement. Each attorney must maintain such records as may be required to substantiate his or her compliance for a period of three years following the close of each reporting year. The first reporting deadline of June 30, 2013 is for attorneys sworn in between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. There are no course substitutions for this requirement.
Q. If I am newly admitted to the Rhode Island State Bar, but I am licensed in another state, do I have to complete the Bridge the Gap Program?
A member who is licensed by a United States jurisdiction other than Rhode Island for three or more years at the time of admission to practice in Rhode Island is exempt from the new attorneys’ Bridge the Gap requirement. The attorney must submit a certificate of good standing to the MCLE Commission along with a letter attesting to the fact that he or she has been admitted in another jurisdiction for the prescribed period.
Q. If I am unable to complete the requirement before the deadline can I get an extension?
Because the Bridge the Gap program is offered online, there are no exemptions or extensions granted by the MCLE Commission except in grave, exceptional circumstances. An attorney may file a written request for waiver or makeup consideration with the Commission with full explanation of the extraordinary circumstances supporting the request. The Commission shall review and approve or deny each request on an individual basis.
Q. How do I register for the Bridge the Gap program?
The Bridge the Gap program is offered by the Rhode Island Bar Association. It is held as a live seminar, two times per year, and made available online. You may register by mail, telephone or online at the Bar’s website. The online program is only available at the Bar’s website.
Q. What are the penalties if I do not fulfil this requirement?
A newly-admitted attorney who fails to fulfill the requirement by June 30th, following the end of the first full MCLE calendar year after the attorney is admitted to the Rhode Island Bar, will be assessed a makeup fee and will be removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys without further notice. Any person whose name is not on the Master Roll, and who practices law or who holds himself or herself out in any manner to the public or to another person as being competent, qualified, authorized, or entitled to practice law in this State and is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and may be subject to the disciplinary procedures of the Supreme Court.
Q. If I have additional questions about this requirement who should I call?
Please contact the MCLE Commission at the Rhode Island Supreme Court, by telephone (401) 222-4942.
To access the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s MCLE page on the Court’s website, click here.