The Hassle-Free Guide to California CLE

Angelica Cesario | December 9, 2019

What is the California CLE requirement? For experienced attorneys, the requirement is 25 credits every 3 years, including at least 4 Ethics credits, 1 Elimination of Bias credit, and 1 Competence Issues credit. (Newly admitted attorney? Check out our requirements page for more detail).

How can I complete the California CLE requirement? You can complete all 25 of your credits by watching on-demand online CLE courses. Other approved formats include live webcasts, mp3 programs, orbigstock-Happy-Young-Asian-Woman-In-Gra-313456300 (1) traditional live, in-person seminars. Just make sure the programs or provider you choose are approved in California and that the provider is verifying your attendance so you get participatory credit (hint: Lawline is an approved provider in CA and all of our programs qualify for participatory credit - which means over 1200 on-demand programs for you to choose from).

Attorneys can also earn CLE credit for legal writing/publishing, teaching law school courses, and/or teaching CLE. These methods for earning credit do come with certain restrictions and limitations, so be sure to check with the State Bar of California if you are seeking CLE credit for any of these activities.

When do I need to complete all my credits? The deadline in California is January 31st of the third year of your reporting cycle. The year in which you’re due depends on when you were admitted and your last name.  

When you were admitted to the California Bar, you were assigned to a compliance group based on the first letter of your last name on your admit card (Group 1, 2, or 3).

If your last name begins with N-Z, you are in Group 3 and your deadline to comply is January 31, 2020.

How do I know what I still have left to complete? Keep records of every CLE program you attend - and make sure you’re completing enough of every credit type. For example, if you take 25 hours worth of CLE total but didn’t take any Ethics credits, you won’t be compliant at the end of the cycle. To help you monitor your progress, Lawline now has a credit tracking tool that automatically logs the credits you complete on Lawline, and allows you to manually input completion information from other providers as well.

What if I took extra CLE credits during my last cycle? You cannot carry over CLE credits from your previous cycle.

What do I do after I complete my courses? Once you have completed everything, you still need to log into your My State Bar profile and submit a statement of compliance. You only have until February 3, 2020 to log in and complete this step. While the state does not currently track individual attendance, you will need to provide documentation (read: certificates) to prove you earned all 25 credits if the State Bar of California selects you for an audit (stay tuned for updates to this policy in late 2020). 

What if I don’t complete my CLE in time? The State Bar may grant you a short grace period to make up the credits, but you will be charged a $75 late compliance fee. You may also become administratively ineligible to practice, so don’t risk it!

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About the Author

Written by Angelica Cesario

Angelica Cesario is Lawline's Lead Program Attorney. She graduated cum laude from Amherst College in 2008 and holds a B.A. in Women's and Gender Studies and a Certificate in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2013 and is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey. Before joining Lawline, Angelica worked as a plaintiff-side labor & employment litigation attorney. Outside of work, Angelica serves on the Board of Directors of the TEAK Fellowship, a non-profit academic and cultural enrichment program that provides educational access to top NYC students. Angelica is the proud mom of an energetic toddler. During her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new foods, and catching up on her favorite TV shows.

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