MCLE Self-Assessment Test
 
 

MCLE overhaul contemplated at public hearings

By Amy Yarbrough
Staff Writer

Concerned that the Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements for attorneys might need to be updated, a State Bar Board of Trustees panel will hold public hearings on the subject this month and in May.

The hearings will take place at the board’s offices on April 18 at 1149 S. Hill St. in Los Angeles and May 8 at 180 Howard St. in San Francisco. The information gathered may ultimately be used to develop a proposal submitted to the Board of Trustees.

The hearings will be broken up into four topics over two days. The April 18 hearing will cover the mission of MCLE from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. From 1:30 to 4 p.m. the focus will shift to MCLE requirements, including the number of hours and sub-fields of ethics, elimination of bias and substance abuse.

In San Francisco, the 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. session will focus on MCLE providers, followed by a 1:30 to 4 p.m. discussion on the different types of MCLE instruction, including online and in-person education.

Loren Kieve, chair of the Member Oversight Committee that authorized the hearings, said he has heard concerns about the MCLE requirements since he joined the board two-and-a-half years ago. Among them, Kieve said, is whether MCLE hours should be increased to match requirements in other states or whether MCLE should be tailored to reflect certain practice areas.

“The issue is, is MCLE really doing what it is supposed to be doing?” Kieve said. “If not, how can we make it do what it is supposed to be doing?”

California’s MCLE program dates back to 1989 when Gov. George Deukmejian signed Senate Bill 905, known as the continuing legal education bill. The MCLE rules and regulations were approved in December of the following year and the program began on Feb. 1, 1992. Initially, attorneys had to complete 36 education hours every three years, but the requirements were changed in October 2000. Since then, active attorneys must complete 25 hours of MCLE every three years.

California has one of the lowest MCLE credit hours requirements in the country, second to Alaska and Hawaii, both of which require only three hours of classes a year. Arizona, Oregon, Texas and Washington require 15 hours per year; Nevada and New York require 12 per year. California attorneys also have some of the lowest continuing education requirements compared with other licensed professionals in the state. Physicians in California must complete 25 hours of continuing education per year, while accountants must do 40 hours each year.

There will be an opportunity for public comment during each of the four sessions over the two days. Those unable to attend are invited to send written comments to Laila Bartlett at Laila.bartlett@calbar.ca.gov or by mail to the State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105.