The State Bar Board of Trustees has convened an Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Working Group aimed at improving MCLE. The Board of Trustees also sought public comment and ideas on the issue. Some important changes to MCLE requirements will be implemented by the State Bar starting July 2014. Further changes are being considered.
LAAC followed the issue closely and attended several public meetings to gain more information to share with our member organizations.
2014 Changes to MCLE Requirements
The following will be implemented by the State Bar starting July 2014.
Changes to MCLE Specialty Credit
- Bias: The scope of bias education will now include “the recognition and elimination of bias in the legal profession and society by a person of, but not limited to, sex, color, race, religions, ancestry, national origin, physical disability, age, or sexual orientation.” Including “society” will allow attorneys to attend trainings relating to cultural competency.
- Substance Abuse: A requirement called “competence issues” will replace “prevention, detection, and treatment of substance abuse or mental illness.” This requirement will focus on “addressing substance abuse or other mental or physical issues that impair a member’s ability to perform legal services with competence.” LAAC did not support the change and our comment reflected concerns about the change.
Changes for MCLE Providers
1. Written Material: All MCLE activities that run for one hour or more will require written materials. Previously, written materials were required to be passed out during sessions longer than one hour.
2. Self-Study MCLE: All self-study MCLE must have been prepared or reviewed for current law within the past five years.
3. Definitions of “participatory” activity and “self-study” activity were defined.
- A “participatory activity” is an MCLE activity for which the provider must verify attendance. Participatory activities may be presented in person or delivered by electronic means.
- A “self-study” is any MCLE is an activity for which attendance is not verified by a provider and the MCLE activities were prepared [or reviewed for accuracy] within the preceding five years. Self-study activities may be presented in person or delivered by electronic means.
4. State Bar MCLE Activity Auditors: Individuals will be designated by the State Bar to conduct audits of MCLE activities for the purpose of evaluating compliance by providers. A State Bar MCLE Activity Auditor may audit the particular MCLE program or class at no cost.
5. Certificates and Records: The certificates given to attorneys and the records kept by the provider must include the title of the MCLE activity, date, total hours awarded, any specialty credits awarded, and whether the activity is participatory or self-study. LAAC recommends providers keep a printed copy of any outreach.
Further MCLE Reform
The MCLE Working Group continues to meet and discuss potential further MCLE reform. The Working Group met most recently on April 14th and discussed national trends in MCLE as well as considering the views of a variety of critics of of MCLE.
LAAC will continue to monitor the activities of this Working Group and keep its members informed.