The Hassle-Free Guide to North Carolina CLE

Sarah Mills | September 24, 2020

What is the North Carolina CLE requirement? For experienced attorneys, the requirement is 12 credits every year, including at least 2 Ethics credits and 1 Technology credit. Every three years, experienced attorneys must also complete 1 Substance Abuse credit. (Newly admitted attorney? Check out our requirements page for more detail.)

How can I complete the North Carolina CLE requirement? You can complete all 12 of your annual credits by watching on-demand online CLE courses. Other approved formats include live webcasts, mp3 programs, or traditional live, in-person seminars. Just make sure the programs or provider you choose are approved in North Carolina and that any courses you complete on-demand or via mp3 are interactive (hint: all of Lawline’s programs are interactive  - which means over 400 courses for you to choose from). Note: Prior to the 2020 reporting cycle, North Carolina attorneys could only take six (6) credits per year in an on-demand format. As of January 1, 2020, that rule is no longer in effect, and North Carolina attorneys can complete their full CLE requirement in an on-demand format as outlined above. 

Attorneys can also earn CLE credits for speaking or teaching CLE programs. Experienced attorneys will earn one (1) credit for every 10 minutes of instruction. 

When do I need to complete all my credits? The deadline in North Carolina is December 31 of every year. However, there is an automatic grace period until February 28.

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 12 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 can carry over up to 12 CLE credits earned in one calendar year to the following calendar year, including Ethics & Professionalism credits. You cannot carry over any Substance Abuse or Technology credits.

What do I do after I complete my courses? In January of each year, you will receive an Annual Report Form from the CLE Department listing all your credit hours from the preceding year. You must sign and return this form to the CLE Department by February 28th or incur a $75 penalty. You will receive a bill for unpaid fees after you return their Annual Report Form. 

Lawline reports each month's credits at the beginning of the following month. However, you must still pay $3.50 per credit as a reporting fee. Please ensure that your bar number is filled out in your profile.  

If you are taking advantage of the automatic grace period to February 28th for completing CLE, any courses completed in January or February will not automatically show up on your previous year's annual report even after being reported by the provider. Please contact the NC Bar for clarification and confirmation of your compliance.

What if I don’t complete my CLE in time? If you have not completed your CLE credits by the February 28 grace period, you will receive a notice by registered or certified mail, designated delivery service, or personal service that you have failed to meet your CLE requirements. You will then have 30 days from service of the notice to show good cause in writing why you should not be suspended from the practice of law, or that you have complied with the requirements within the 30-day period after service. If a written response attempting to show good cause is not postmarked or received by the board by the last day of the 30-day period after the notice was served,  you may be suspended from the practice of law in North Carolina.

Related Content:

  1. North Carolina CLE Requirements For Attorneys
  2. North Carolina CLE Online Bundle
  3. Lawline Launches New Business and Professional Development Programs for Attorneys

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About the Author

Written by Sarah Mills

Sarah graduated from Simon's Rock College in 2005 with a BA in Linguistics, then worked in events production for several years before she graduated from New York Law School in 2012. Before joining Lawline, she worked in litigation management as a legal auditor. She loves working as a program attorney as it combines her legal knowledge and production background. She has two kids, two cats, and loves public transit and rainy days.

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