Qualifying Activities for MCLE Credit

Factors used in evaluating an activity

The State Bar evaluates whether a single activity is approved for MCLE credit using the following factors:

  • The activity must be directly relevant to members of the State Bar
  • The activity has significant and current professional or practical content
  • The presenters or faculty have significant professional or academic experience related to the topic being presented
  • The intended audience must be primarily members of the State Bar (for example, courses intended for paralegals do not qualify)
  • The written or electronic materials that accompany the activity must be suitable and easily understood

Examples of Activities that do not qualify for MCLE credit

  • A legal subject taught to non-attorneys
  • Programs or portions of an activity designed to teach attorneys how to improve marketing to new clients or increase profits
  • Writing for or on behalf of a client in the regular practice of law
  • Jury duty
  • Train the trainer programs or programs designed to enhance a person's ability to present CLE education
  • Reviewing and evaluating legal work of associates and others of less experience on a one-on-one basis by more experienced attorneys (for example, a mentor program)
  • Grading the California bar exam
  • Acting as a judge pro tem, mediator, arbitrator or settlement judge
  • Acting as a Supervising Attorney in the State Bar Law Office Study Program
  • Classes in which there is a focus directly on a pending case by in-house providers by the participants in the pending case
  • Activities used to market or sell the presenter's technology, products, services or skills
  • Time spent in conducting a roll call or connecting to the teleconference
  • Chat room discussions
  • General business courses on writing and managing
  • Informal discussion groups
  • Education activities on the moral issues facing society in general
  • Preparation for an examination for admission to practice law in any state, the District of Columbia, and territory of the U.S., or any foreign jurisdiction, or for time spent actually taking such examinations
  • Time spent in reading or studying of published or printed material before taking a self-assessment test
  • Participating in a moot court activity
  • AB1825 (the law requiring training on the prohibition and prevention of sexual harassment) courses do not qualify for elimination of bias credit, but do qualify for general credit 
  • Education programs on mentoring new attorneys

Examples of Activities that do qualify for MCLE credit

Management of law practice education activities are eligible for approval if they have significant practical content directly relevant to members and are related to the practice of law, including, but not limited to:

  • Docket control
  • Malpractice avoidance
  • Improvement of attorney communication skills with current clients
  • Improvement in the attorney-client relationship

Qualifying an activity for special credit hours

California's MCLE requirement provides that attorneys complete at least 25 hours of continuing legal education, which must include at least four hours of Legal Ethics, at least one hour dealing with Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession, and at least one hour in the Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness that impairs Professional Competence.

Legal Ethics

Legal Ethics must focus on the professional responsibility of attorneys and not on business, corporate, government, or societal ethics. For example, activities that educate attorneys on the California Rules of Professional Conduct are eligible for legal ethics credit, but activities that focus on ethical dilemmas encountered in our society, or in a business or a non-legal profession, are NOT eligible for MCLE legal ethics credit.

Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession

Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession is limited to problems that attorneys encounter in the legal profession. Activities that assist in the recognition, identification and prevention of bias in a legal setting, as well as activities on diversity in the legal profession, may qualify for bias credit. A few examples of subjects previously approved for MCLE bias credit are: How to Address Negative Attitudes or Comments of a Judge Toward Minority Attorneys; Sexism in the Field of Criminal Law, and Bias Against Women in Law.

Activities addressing bias encountered in society are NOT eligible for MCLE credit. Examples of topics that are NOT eligible for bias credit include ADA laws, diversity in the general workplace, sexual harassment, or how to handle a sexual harassment case. AB1825 (the law requiring training on the prohibition and prevention of sexual harassment) courses do not qualify for elimination of bias credit, but do qualify for general credit.

Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse

Unlike other sub-fields, these courses may address generic issues in society and need not focus solely on problems that an attorney may encounter in the legal profession. However, education in the handling of a case or client matter in which substance abuse is an element is NOT eligible for credit in this sub-field.

Mental Illness That Impairs Professional Competence (as an Option to Substance Abuse)

Activities may focus on all different types of mental disorders, including disorders of thought, mood or behavior.

To be classified as a mental illness, the condition must result in an attorney's reduced ability to function psychologically, socially, occupationally or interpersonally. The mental illness must also impair the attorney's ability to apply sufficient learning, skill and diligence necessary to discharge duties arising from employment or provision of legal services.

Qualifying activities outside of California for MCLE Credit

Approved education activities in other jurisdictions must meet the following standards:

  • The activity should have substantive written materials if the activity is more than one hour in length
  • There should be at least 50 minutes of study or instruction for each hour of credit
  • They must be activities that would be eligible for California credit (for example, California does not give credit for judging moot court, so that activity would not qualify)

View a list of approved jurisdictions.

Qualifying online activities

On-line activities may be eligible for either self-study or verified (participatory) credit.

  • Activities must permit the attendee a reasonable opportunity to both view and participate in the program
  • Credit is limited to the actual time spent in an online legal education activity
  • Members may claim MCLE credit for speaking at or instructing an approved online educational activity generally in accordance with Rule 2.81 (for example, a member who is an instructor of an online course may receive credit for the actual time spent speaking, multiplied by four)
  • Written materials are required on activities of more than an hour in length
  • Evaluation forms must be provided to attendees for all activities
  • Certificates of attendance can be provided online in printed form
  • Attendees must receive adequate advance written or electronic notification concerning how to access these materials, and, in the case of evaluation forms, how to return them
  • Materials provided online must be available online for at least 30 calendar days following the activity
  • The provider of an online activity may obtain signatures electronically
  • The provider must retain copies of all electronic signatures, written material, evaluation forms and records of attendance in a manner that is open and available for audit