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California’s MCLE requirement of 25 hours, over a 36-month compliance period, includes 4 hours of Legal Ethics credit, 1 hour of Elimination of Bias credit, and 1 hour of Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness (to be referred to as “Competence Issues”, effective July 1, 2014) credit. MCLE Rule 2.72 (D) within Title 2, Division 4 of the Rules of the State Bar provides that an attorney may reduce the required 25 hour MCLE requirement in proportion to the number of complete months during the compliance period when the member was not yet admitted, was officially on inactive status, or was on active status but qualified for an MCLE exemption. The rule references an online tool for calculating proportional requirements, which has been implemented as the Proportional Requirement Table available on the State Bar’s website. In the current table, as soon as a member’s requirement is determined to be a “proportional requirement” (i.e., is not the full 25 hours), the usual one hour required in the Elimination of Bias and the one hour required in the Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness are dropped from the mandatory requirement. A pro-rated number of the four hours normally required in Legal Ethics remains intact.
A concern has been raised regarding the fact that new lawyers often are not exposed to an Elimination of Bias or a Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness course before several years of practice, due to the way proportional requirements are calculated.
The proposed amendment to the calculation would keep the required Elimination of Bias hour and the required Substance Abuse/ Competence Issues hour intact within every member’s requirement, regardless of the pro-rated total number of hours due.
The agenda item and attachments linked below describe the proposed changes in detail.