California has stringent MCLE requirements for both new and practicing attorneys. In fact, all lawyers must complete 25 MCLE credit hours every 3 years. This is part of the state’s compliance cycles, which also include 12.5 participatory CLE credits. As part of the California MCLE bundles, attorneys must complete the following in order to secure legal validation and confirmation:
• A minimum of Legal Ethics credit hours.
• 1 Elimination of Bias credit hour.
• 1 Competence Issues credit hour.
Again, the reporting cycle for MCLE compliance is every 3 years. All Sacramento California attorneys courses must be completed by January 31, and the reporting deadline is February 1. As a self-reporting MCLE state, CLE providers are not allowed to report MCLE compliance for lawyers. Instead, all attorneys have to self-report CA MCLE compliance at the State Bar of California website. This portal is found at the My State Bar Profile, and no lawyers are allowed to carry over MCLE credits from the last reporting period to the next.
California attorneys can find CLE providers at the State Bar website. However, all California MCLE bundles must be offered by an accredited, licensed and approved provider. These courses should also be available to lawyers 24 hours a day — 7 days a week — 365 days a year. This allows attorneys the flexibility and freedom to complete these courses any time of the day or night. The CLE providers must also offer multiple formats for lawyers seeking compliance. This includes:
• Streaming videos.
• MP3 audio streaming and downloads.
• MP4 video downloads and On-Demand video.
• CDs and/or DVDs.
Upcoming Cost Changes For Bundles
California MCLE bundles are a cost-effective way for attorneys to secure compliance. In fact, bundles provide essential access to all informative courses. Once the courses are completed, the attorneys would have satisfied the entire 25 hours of participatory credit. The latter is currently priced at $79 at most CLE provider websites.
Here is a breakdown of costs for lawyers that want to take CLE courses separately:
• 4 Credits Ethics Bundle is around $49 at most CLE provider sites.
• 2 Specialty Credits is around $29 at most CLE provider sites.*
*The Specialty Bundle is designed for lawyers that have most of their MCLE credits. However, they may be lacking hard-to-get specialty credits as mandated by the California State Bar in order to keep up with new changes in California State law. These bundles provide one hour of competence issues credit, as well as one hour of elimination of bias credit for the legal profession and industry.
Understanding Compliance Groups and Reporting Schedules
It is important for all California attorneys to understand the MCLE compliance groups and schedules. There are three compliance groups, which are broken down by the last name. This includes A-G, H-M, and N-Z. As mentioned earlier, the last day to complete MCLE credits is January 31. The reporting deadline for these credits completed is February 1. Here are the current groups and schedules for attorneys that must meet their CLE compliance for the respective reporting year:
• Group 1 — last names A-G — Period: February 1, 2016 — January 31, 2019. Deadline: February 1, 2019.
• Group 2 — last names H-M — Period: February 1, 2015 — January 31, 2018 — Deadline: February 1, 2018.
• Group 3 – last names N-Z — Period: February 1, 2017 — January 31, 2020 — Deadline: February 1, 2020.
MCLE stands for minimum continuing legal education, while CLE stands for continuing legal education. Both are also known as continuing professional development — especially for lawyers that have been admitted to the bar within their respective state. In the U.S., attorneys must complete MCLE courses to maintain their licenses to practice law. While MCLE courses are mandatory every three years, CLE courses are recommended — but not required. Most CLE and MCLE providers offer both bundle courses for optimal convenience and flexibility.