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What are the California MCLE Requirements?

The reporting period for California attorneys is every three years. For most attorneys who are actively practicing law in California, they must complete 25 credit hours of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) during the reporting period. Upon completion of the minimum number of California MCLE required credit hours, a compliance report must be filed with the California State Bar.

Credit Types

One California MCLE compliance credit hour must be on the topic of competence issues.

Four hours of the California MCLE compliance credit hours must be about legal ethics.

Two total hours of the California MCLE compliance credit hours must be on the topic of elimination of bias.

One of these California MCLE compliance credit hour elimination of bias courses must be on the specific topic of implicit bias and strategies and techniques for the promotion of reducing bias. From the perspective of the California State Bar, it is no longer enough to simply be aware of implicit bias, we must know specific ways that it can be reduced. This is a recently added rule starting with the upcoming compliance group.

The rest of the California MCLE compliance credit hours are considered "general" and can be on any valid legal topic as long as it otherwise meets the California MCLE requirements.

Approved California MCLE Credit Hour Activity

Every attorney is responsible for determining that the California MCLE activity that they participate in has met the approval of the of the California State Bar. Alternatively, the activity can have been approved by another state or country as defined by the California State Bar as an approved jurisdiction.

If the California MCLE credit activity has not been officially approved by the California State Bar, either directly or indirectly through the approved jurisdiction rule, lawyers can obtain, complete and then file a MCLE Credit Request Form to seek official approval for the activity. This form is available from the California State Bar.

Self Study

Half of the California MCLE compliance credit hours that are earned can be of the type "Self Study". Self study means that the hours can be acquired by engaging in activities such as taking an assessment test after online study of legal topics. Another example would be preparing a law course for other attorneys or law students or researching and writing a paper or book. This is an uncommon but effective way to earn California MCLE compliance credit hours.


The second half of the California MCLE compliance credit hours that are completed must be officially approved as "participatory MCLE credit". For this type of credit, it must be a type of activity where you sign in at the time of participating in the course. Electronic or online sign in is permitted. The course provider must also keep detailed records of every participant in the course. Lastly, they must issue an official certificate that provides details about the course, when it was completed and how many and what types of credit it is. See above for details in different types of credit hours.

California MCLE Courses can be completed for "Participatory Credit" that are delivered by media such as DVDs, audiotape or CDs if the provider has been approved by the California State Bar to do so. In the same manner, attorneys can participate in California MCLE credit by participating in courses online through the Internet. In both cases it is incumbent on the attorney to ascertain that the provider has been approved by the California State Bar.


Rules for Minimum Continuing Legal Education (California MCLE) necessitate active members of the State Bar of California to remain current regarding the law, the obligations, rules and professional standards of the legal profession. If a member does not fulfill their California MCLE requirements, they can lose their active status and become unable to practice law in California. Members who are forced into inactive status for failing to comply with these rules will be shamed in a public list that available on the State Bar Web site.

MCLE Activity

An "MCLE activity" (which for most people is an MCLE course) is continuing legal education that the State Bar authorizes as meeting standards for California MCLE credit.

MCLE Provider

A "provider" is an individual or company that is authorized by the State Bar to provide California MCLE credit for an MCLE educational activity. "California MCLE credit" is the amount of credit hours that a bar member may claim to meet the requirements of these MCLE rules.

Credit Hour

A "credit hour" is sixty minutes actually engaged in California MCLE activity. This does not include any time for breaks or other activities that lack legal educational content. A California MCLE credit hour is reported to the nearest quarter hour, in decimals.

Approved Jurisdiction

An "approved jurisdiction" is recognized by the State Bar as having MCLE requirements that are significantly equivalent to California State Bar standards for MCLE courses. The approved jurisdiction should calculate California MCLE credit hours in a manner that is reasonable and acceptable to the California State Bar. Approved jurisdictions are listed publicly on the State Bar Web site.

Participatory Activity

A "participatory activity" is a California MCLE activity (usually a course) for which the provider must verify participant attendance. Participatory activities may be presented in person or delivered by electronic means such as on-demand over the internet. Methods for verification include sign-in writing (for in-person attendance) or electronically (for online attendance) at the start of the California MCLE course.

Self‐study Activity

A "self‐study activity" is any California MCLE activity identified in Rule 2.83. Self‐study activities may be presented in person or delivered by electronic means. Only half of the 25 required credits can be self study. It is not required to have any self study credit. All of your California MCLE credits earned can be participatory in type.

Valid Topics

The California MCLE activity must relate to legal subjects directly relevant to the members of the California State Bar or have significant current professional, ethical and practical information.

Experienced Presenters

The presenter of a California MCLE course must have substantial and relevant professional and/or academic experience related to its topic.

Promotional/Marketing Materials

Promotional/Marketing materials must state that the California MCLE course is authorized for MCLE credit. The material must specify the amount of California MCLE credit offered and indicate whether any of the credit may be aimed at required California MCLE requirements in legal ethics, elimination of bias, implicit bias or competence issues.

Written Materials

If the activity lasts an hour or longer, the California MCLE provider must make substantive written materials that are pertinent to the California MCLE course available either before or during every instance of the California MCLE course. Any materials available online must be maintained online and accessible for at least thirty calendar days following the California MCLE course.


California MCLE courses must be scheduled so that participants are free of interruptions.

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