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Where, how, and when to get your CLE credits in California

How To Get Cle Credits California
Are you looking for more California CLE credits to meet your ongoing education requirements? Let's talk about the California MCLE requirements and how you can get those credits.

You know you need CLE credits every reporting period in California. Let’s talk about where to get your CLE this year — and the next, and the one after that…

I think we can all agree that mandatory continuing legal education (“MCLE” or “CLE”) is good for the profession. After all, it forces legal professionals to stay up-to-date on important rules changes, case law, and other practice developments that we all need in order to provide our clients with optimal representation.

We can probably also all agree that there never seems to be a good time to schedule those CLE classes. Between busy practices, family obligations, and trying to get a modicum of relaxation in, adding CLE obligations to the “to-do” list can be frustrating.

Well, we’re here to take some of the load off.

In this article, we’ll give you current CLE requirements for California attorneys and paralegals.

After that, we’ll provide plenty of resources for where you can get your California CLE courses. Some of them are practical, some are fun, and number five is simply near and dear to our hearts.

So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk California CLE.

CLE requirements

The amount of continuing education and your deadline to finish depends on whether you’re an attorney or paralegal.

Requirements for attorneys

In California, attorneys are required to complete 25 hours of CLE classes every reporting period (i.e., every three years).

Out of those 25 hours, four hours must be ethics credits, one hour must be focused on competency issues, and at least two hours must deal with elimination of bias. One of those two hours must focus on implicit bias and the promotion of bias-reducing strategies.

The State Bar divides California attorneys into three compliance groups based on the first letter of their last name:

  • Group 1 (A-G) – Current compliance period ends January 31, 2024
  • Group 2 (H-M) – Current compliance period ends January 31, 2025
  • Group 3 (N-Z) – Current compliance period ends January, 31, 2023

Paralegal requirements

According to California law, every two years, paralegals must certify completion of four hours of mandatory continuing legal education in legal ethics and four hours of mandatory continuing legal education in either general law or in an area of specialized law.

So, now that you know how much continuing legal education you need, let’s discuss the places you can get it.

#1: Straight from the source

The State Bar of California is responsible for ensuring that attorneys (and paralegals) meet their CLE requirements.

In light of that, it only makes sense that the State Bar website provides links to approved courses offered by the California Lawyers Association (CLA).

CLA is the designated provider of low-cost MCLE under the California State Bar Act and the organization offers hundreds of hours of online CLE. You can browse the catalog at any time and either sign up for live events or take self-guided courses at your leisure.

The State Bar also offers its own online self-study courses. For $25, members can view the educational materials and then take a test to certify participation.

#2: Study abroad

If you’re lucky enough to be involved with California Lawyers for the Arts, you might be interested in one of the organization’s study-abroad CLE programs.

The programs, which are designed for artists and attorneys, are just one of the organization’s efforts to get these two groups talking about the legal aspects of creative work.

Past travel opportunities were offered in Cuba, South Africa, France, and Ghana. Lawyers with the travel bug should check out this option, though it’s not really viable for last-minute CLE credits when a deadline looms.

#3: Laugh it off

If you have to take a class, you might as well get to laugh through it, right?

We’ve all heard of humorous driver’s training courses, but did you know there are also CLE courses offered by comedians?

When it comes to offering comprehensive CLE options, these folks aren’t kidding around. They offer live webinars, online courses, and, for the right price, they’ll even come to you. They also offer subscription packages that give access to all programs for one annual fee.

They currently offer stunning programs such as “Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard: Tips for Representing Crazy Clients.” With titles like that, how can you go wrong?

#4: In the sky

If you’re feeling a little too grounded lately, you might consider combining your required CLE with a hot air balloon festival.

Over the course of four days, you can earn 15 CLE credits and see some amazing sites in the State of New Mexico.

By the way, if you’re wondering whether CLE credits earned in another state are valid, we’ve got you covered. According to the State Bar of California:

A California attorney can claim California MCLE credit for education activities attended/taken outside California, provided that:

  • the attorney is outside California when attending/taking the activity
  • the activity is the type of activity that can be approved for California MCLE credit;
  • the activity is approved by an approved jurisdiction.

Fortunately for all of you hot air balloon lovers out there, New Mexico is an approved jurisdiction.

#5: Legal Up

We would like to formally invite you to Legal Up, which is InfoTrack’s annual virtual legal conference. In 2023, it’s happening on April 27 and 28.

Legal Up was created with the simple intention of bringing legal professionals together, from paralegals to administrators to attorneys. We’ve had thousands of attendees, 99% of whom said they would recommend the event to others.

And the best part? It’s completely free to attend, and several of the seminars offered during Legal Up provide CLE hours.

We hope to virtually see you there.

#6: The world wide web

Of course, a simple Google search will lead you to thousands of live and online CLE providers. Perhaps that’s how you found this article in the first place.

There is an abundance of resources and websites where you can earn CLE credits from the comfort of your office. We trust you to find the best fit for you — and we have some tips to help you get exactly what you need.

Treat ongoing education like it’s important, because it is. Aim to find CLE courses that can help you expand your horizons so that you can apply that information to grow in your legal career.

You might even consider treating your CLE requirements as on-the-job training to prepare you for your next promotion.

Just in case nothing feels quite right to you, however, remember that you can always become certified to be a CLE provider yourself. Be the change you want to see in the legal industry, right?

As you seek out ways to meet your CLE requirements this period, we hope you find even more than you were looking for. Good luck!

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