The State Bar requires attorneys to go through Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) and to file a report every three years stating that they have complied.
But some attorneys are exempt*, meaning that they do not have to go through the training, although they do have to file a report with the State Bar, according to Rule of Court 9.31 and Business & Professions Code Section 6070 [Rule 2.54]. The exempt attorneys include
The exemption for retired judges was deleted from Business and Professions Code section 6070, effective Jan. 1, 2000.
* Important notice concerning appellate litigation involving the issue whether superior court attorneys are required to comply with minimum continuing legal education requirements:
California Business and Professions Code section 6070 exempts attorney employees of the State of California from minimum continuing legal education (“MCLE”) requirements. The State Bar of California (“State Bar”) is presently involved in litigation (Obbard v. State Bar of California, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CPF-17-515590 (filed Apr. 14, 2017)) (“Obbard”) addressing the question whether attorneys employed by the superior courts constitute “employees of the State of California.” It has been the State Bar of California’s policy since the MCLE program was implemented in 1992 that superior court attorneys are not “employees of the State of California” and thus are required to certify compliance with MCLE requirements every three years.
On July 11, 2018, the San Francisco Superior Court entered a judgment in Obbard finding that “as a matter of statutory construction, the phrase ‘[f]ull-time employees of the State of California’ as used in Business and Professions code section 6070(c) includes the attorneys employed full-time by the superior courts of the State of California.” The Court thus ordered that “[t]he State Bar must cease requiring that attorneys employed full-time a superior court of the State of California comply with the State Bar’s mandatory continuing legal educational program established pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 6070(a).” On July 23, 2018, the State Bar filed Notice of Appeal of the San Francisco Superior Court’s July 11, 2018 judgment. It is the State Bar’s position that the Court’s judgment is stayed pending resolution of the appeal, and, accordingly, Superior Court attorneys employed remain presently obligated to fulfill their MCLE obligations. This is to advise that the State Bar will not take administrative action at this time against any Superior Court attorney for their failure to certify fulfillment of MCLE obligations. If, however, the July 11, 2018 judgment is overturned by the Court of Appeal, the State Bar reserves its rights to take any and all actions necessary related to the fulfillment of Superior Court attorneys MCLE obligations -- past, present and future.
The exemption covers only the requirement that attorneys get MCLE. Exempt attorneys are still required to file a report through My State Bar Profile every compliance period, indicating one of the following reasons:
If you are exempt and you fail report your exempt status on time, you are subject to the same sanctions imposed on those who fail to report compliance.
FAQs on attorney exemptions