Back to School: Summer CLE Refresher

Meredith Cohen | August 21, 2018

In the carefree months of summer, when all we want to do is relax by the pool, read a good book, or have a fun family cookout, the last thing on anyone’s mind is whether or not we’ve gotten our CLE done. This is especially true for people with deadlines later in the year (24 states’ deadlines aren’t until December 31) and for those who haven’t had to complete CLE in a long time (or ever, if you’re a newbie!). But, just as the kids are getting ready to go back to school, attorneys should start to think about their own return to learning and continued growth through CLE. We’ve put together a short refresher on what you’ll need to know before completing your CLE requirement this year.

Important Terms

We keep tossing around the term CLE, and you may have also seen MCLE, or even VCLE, in your state’s requirements. What exactly do these mean? Quite simply, CLE stands for Continuing Legal Education. The M in MCLE stands for Mandatory while VCLE refers to Voluntary. Here are some additional crucial terms to know:

  • Compliance Period - The period in which you have to complete your CLE requirement. This varies greatly by state!
  • Compliance Deadline - The deadline by which you have to finish taking your CLE credits.
  • Reporting - the process of confirming the credits you’ve taken with your state regulating body. For many states, the provider is responsible for submitting this information but in others, the attorney needs to send it in.
  • Live Courses - Generally speaking, this refers to courses that feature live, real-time interaction between the participant and the presenter. Many states allow Live Webcasts, or other technology-based course formats, to satisfy a minimum requirement of Live Courses.
  • On Demand - These may be referred to as Self-Study, Home Study, or Computer-Based programs. On Demand courses are recorded videos, and while they can be approved for CLE credit, some states place limits on how many credits attorneys can earn by watching these.
  • Credit Hour - The length of time spent in a course to receive one credit. Most states regulate that 60 minutes of instruction time is equal to one credit hour, but in some states a credit hour is actually only 50 minutes.
  • Carryover Credit - Credit completed in excess of the minimum requirement that is able to be applied to the following compliance cycle. Many states allow attorneys to carry extra credits forward into the next cycle, but some states do not.
  • Newly Admitted Attorney - An attorney that was recently admitted to the bar in a given state. The term “newly” is somewhat vague; some states consider attorneys to be newly admitted when they’re in their first 12 months of admission, some go by calendar year, and others say it’s the first two year period after admission. In general, Newly Admitted Attorneys have their own separate set of CLE rules and requirements to abide by.


For more tips on completing your CLE requirements, read this article - and if you’re ready to get started on your requirements for this year, but don’t know where to start, check out Lawline’s new Free Trial and find the courses that are right for you.  Be sure to check with your own state CLE requirements and utilize our free CLE Tracker to make sure you get everything done in time!

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About the Author

Written by Meredith Cohen

Meredith is the Director of Customer Experience at Lawline but has taken on a number of diverse roles within the company over the years, and has handled just about everything from managing customer databases to doing post-production work on courses. Since joining the Lawline team in 2012, she has gotten her MBA online, done some world traveling, and hand-fed an ostrich. She loves singing off-key in the car, shouting out the questions on ‘Jeopardy!’ and eating dessert first.


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