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CLE FAQs for Newly-Admitted Attorneys

The American Bar Association is the premier source for continuing legal education (CLE).

The American Bar Association is the premier source for continuing legal education (CLE).

What is MCLE?

Mandatory Continuing Legal Education or Minimum Continuing Legal Education is professional education for attorneys that takes place after their initial admission to the bar. Most states and territories within the United States require attorneys to complete certain requirements in order to maintain their licenses to practice law. Outside the United States this may be known as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and attorneys licensed there must also complete certain requirements. Some jurisdictions recommend, but do not require, that attorneys complete CLE or CPD. 

What is my MCLE requirement?

Attorneys must earn a minimum number of credits (measured in hours) over a set period of years. Most jurisdictions also require a minimum number of CLE credits for specific topics (e.g. ethics, diversity and inclusion, substance abuse prevention, and malpractice prevention). There are no nationwide rules for requirements or accreditation, with each individual jurisdiction establishing their own standards through their state’s supreme court. 

Who needs to meet these requirements?

Almost all attorneys licensed in a jurisdiction with MCLE must complete the requirements. Many jurisdictions have rules which provide exceptions or waivers (e.g. age, judicial service, military service, and board/committee service). 

Who is considered a newly-admitted attorney?

Each jurisdiction determines their own definition of a “newly-admitted” for purposes of MCLE requirements. Usually an attorney in his or her first year of practice from admission to the bar is considered newly-admitted, but some jurisdictions extend this period to two or three years. Certain jurisdictions do not require attorneys who have been previously admitted in other jurisdictions to meet the newly-admitted attorney requirements. 

How can I meet these requirements?

Most attorneys meet their MCLE requirements by taking approved CLE programs accredited by their jurisdiction. These programs may be provided live in-person, or through other formats such as live synchronous webinar, teleseminar, online on demand recording, or downloadable audio or video file. Requirements for acceptable format and limits on the number of credits earned by format are specific to each jurisdiction. In addition, many jurisdictions allow attorneys to earn credit through other methods (e.g. teaching CLE courses or law school classes, authoring legal publications, mentoring less-experienced attorneys, and pro bono work). 

What are some recommended best practices related to CLE?

Know state rules and keep up with changes: understanding your responsibilities under your MCLE requirements is critical to maintaining your license to practice. Clarify any questions you may have by reaching out to your jurisdiction’s regulatory agency or board. Contact information is provided on the ABA’s CLE Rule pages.

Calendar your deadlines: in addition to knowing your jurisdiction’s rules, make sure you know the date by which your requirement must be complete as well as the date by which any reporting obligations you may have is due.

Watch ABACLE for new programs relevant to your practice: As an ABA member, you have access to almost 2,000 CLE programs accredited widely across the United States and Canada. And over 500 of these programs are available to you at no additional charge as part of our Member Benefit CLE Library. Attorneys can search our CLE programs by accredited jurisdiction, credit type, topic, practice area, or producing entity to find programs of interest and that best support his or her practice. 

How do I find my MCLE requirements?

The ABA maintains a list of CLE rules by jurisdiction, explained simply and clearly, for both newly-admitted and experienced attorneys.

These rules may be found on our MCLE information page.