Before allowing providers to issue Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credit, the State Bar evaluates the programs providers plan to present to practicing attorneys.
Programs that help an attorney prepare for public speaking may not count, for example, because the central theme is something other than the practice of law. But a program on avoiding a malpractice does count for MCLE credit because it deals with the professional standards attorneys are expected to maintain.
In order to be approved for MCLE credit, providers must ensure that their programs:
Consider activities relating to the management of a law practice or law office. They are eligible for approval if they have significant practical content, are directly relevant to attorneys and are related to the practice of law. They include:
A provider may request MCLE credit for welcoming remarks, introductions of speakers, closing remarks and question and answer periods.
For a program or activity to be approved that is one hour or more in length, substantive written materials relevant to the program or activity must be prepared and made available to attendees, either before or during the activity.
Such materials must be relevant to the subject matter of the program and will be considered sufficiently substantive if they offer citations to or a discussion of any legal authority, published case law, statutes, law review articles or other published research or commentary that augment the educational experience of attorneys.
Legal ethics must focus on the professional responsibility of attorneys and not on the ethics of business, corporate or government affairs or society in general. For example, activities that educate attorneys on the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct are eligible for MCLE legal ethics credit, but programs that focus on ethical dilemmas encountered in society, a business or a nonlegal profession do not.
Make sure to cite the specific rules of professional conduct for attorneys that the program relates to or discusses. The Rules of Professional Conduct are found on the State Bar website.
Recognition and elimination of bias in the legal profession and society
Activities that qualify include courses on any form of bias found in the legal profession or in society in general. Activities that qualify for credit include education in the recognition and elimination of impermissible bias in the courtroom, law office, attorney-client relationships and relationships with other attorneys, legal and nonlegal employment, the workplace, hiring, managing and terminating employees and in housing, accommodations and services.
Courses required by AB 1825 (mandatory sexual harassment awareness and prevention training for personnel managers) are approved for elimination of bias credit.
Substance abuse, mental or physical issues that impair professional competence
Approved activities must consist of education that identifies and discusses the detection of substance abuse, mental illness or other mental or physical issue that impairs an attorney's ability to perform legal services with competence.
Courses that discuss or provide treatment for any of the mental, emotional or physical issues that affect professional competence do not qualify for credit in this area. This includes programs primarily about alcohol and drug treatment, meditation or other forms of stress management.
Online activities may be eligible for either self-study or verified (participatory) credit. Providers must ensure that:
For questions contact the State Bar at:
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Participatory credit vs. self-study credit