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What Are the California MCLE Ethics Requirements?

According to the California State Bar, all practicing attorneys must take four California MCLE credit hours of ethics credit for every three-year compliance period. Compliance periods are staggered based in the last name of the practicing attorney.

All California MCLE legal ethics courses must focus specifically on professional responsibility of attorneys and not on the ethics of corporate or government affairs, business, or society in general. To be very specific, activities that educate attorneys on the state's Rules of Professional Conduct are eligible for MCLE legal ethics credit, but programs that focus on ethical dilemmas faced in other facets of society, in general business, or a nonlegal profession will not meet these requirements.

Examples of classes that would not meet these requirements:

- Are high taxes ethical?
- What are the ethical implications of international commerce?
-What is a good balance between liberty and law enforcement?
-Can non-religious people be ethical?
-Should you speak to the police when pulled over?
-What is the difference between ethics and morals?
-Is it ethical to lobby congress?

California MCLE legal ethics courses should cite the specific Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys that the program relates to or focuses on.

It is also generally good to look for MCLE courses that cite and then examine specific legal cases and precedents that illustrate the dynamics and nuances of these rules. Some of the rules are subtle and best understood with concrete examples.

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