The MCLE education requirement is modified for out-of-state residents only insofar as California allows most activities that are approved by other MCLE jurisdictions to count toward the California MCLE requirement. If you reside outside of California it is not necessary to return to California to participate in CLE activities. An activity held anywhere in the world can be approved for California credit, and the content of activities approved for California credit is not restricted to California law.
The California MCLE requirement is not fulfilled by virtue of meeting another jurisdiction's MCLE requirement.
To fulfill California's MCLE requirement, you must meet California's requirement of 25 hours of approved CLE:
- within your three-year California compliance period
- with the kind of activities that can be approved for California credit
- utilizing "self-study" activities for no more than 1/2 of your total requirement
- including, within the 25 hours, the following special requirement hours
- Legal Ethics: 4 hours
- Detection/Prevention of Substance Abuse: 1 hour
- Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession: 1 hour
California's process for tracking education and reporting compliance is different from most other states. California does not track your CLE credit hours. Records of earned MCLE credit are maintained by the member and reported to the State Bar of California at the end of the compliance period. (Go to Compliance Information for details on reporting.)
Ways to Earn MCLE Credit
Credit can be claimed for activities attended outside of California if they are approved by a jurisdiction on California's approved list (most states with a CLE requirement are approved jurisdictions, as are several foreign jurisdictions), and if the activity is the kind of activity that can be approved for California credit.
One-half of the California MCLE requirement can be fulfilled with approved "self-study" education activities, provided that the "self-study" activity is the kind of activity that can be approved for California credit.
Note: It is often easier to meet the special requirements unique to California (e.g., one hour of education in elimination of bias in the legal profession and one hour of education in detection/prevention of substance abuse) by listening to a tape or taking a self-assessment test that is approved for California MCLE credit.
If you are outside California and listen to an audio recording that is approved for credit by another jurisdiction, you can count it for California credit. Besure to confirm the activity meets California's definition of "self-study", as different jurisdictions use this term in various ways and to describe different "types" of activities.
Online and Electronic Activities
Take advantage of approved activities that can be accessed electronically.
- Providers often get online activities approved by California, as California must approve the activity or provider in order for attorneys residing in California to get credit.
- If you are outside California when you participate in an online activity, you also can count it for credit if it is approved for credit by an approved jurisdiction.
There are many national organizations that are California MCLE approved providers and/or offer education activities that are approved by an approved jurisdiction. Use the Provider Search to find California MCLE Approved Providers and check it for national organizations that provide CLE in your area.
Law School Classes
Enroll in or teach a class at a law school, as such activities are automatically approved for credit if they meet the criteria spelled out in the MCLE Rules. (Example: obtaining an LL.M. degree.)
Sponsor an Approved Activity
If there are other California attorneys in your area, consider joining with them to develop CLE activities that can be submitted to the State Bar of California for approval. For example, present a seminar in your area of expertise to the other attorneys in your lawfirm. If the activity is submitted to California and approved for CLE credit (Single Activity Approval form), you and your audience can claim credit toward California's MCLE requirement.
- California gives additional MCLE credit to speakers and panelists.
- California allows credit for in-house education activities that meet its standards for approval [Rule 3.501].
Request Approval of an Unapproved Activity
If you attend or teach an education activity that is not otherwise approved for credit by California or an Approved Jurisdiction, but is the kind of activity that California approves for credit, submit a Member Credit Request to seek individual credit for the activity.
Additional Information for Foreign Residents
There are three foreign jurisdictions on California's Approved Jurisdiction list:
- England & Wales
- Hong Kong
- Victoria, Australia
Also, note that the Approved Jurisdiction concept applies universally. For example, if you take a course in Paris that is approved for New York CLE credit, you can count it for California MCLE credit. The activity doesn't need to be given by or in the jurisdiction in which you reside, you just need to be outside California and the activity needs to be approved by a jurisdiction on California's approved list and of a kind approved for credit by California.
Branch Offices of U.S. or International Law Firms
California allows in-house education to be approved for CLE credit. Contact branch offices of U.S. or international law firms in your area to see if they:
- Sponsor activities you can attend or
- Have attorneys interested in attending activities that you sponsor.
Such activities may already be approved by California or an approved jurisdiction. If not, submit them for approval using a Member Credit Request form.
If approved education is not available and you are in a remote area without Internet access, consider transferring to Voluntary Inactive Status or go to Good Cause Modification of the requirements for more information.