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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

MCLE Providers: Getting local

By Psyche Pascual
Staff Writer

For some attorneys, December and January are not exactly holidays. It’s a scramble to get the minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) credits completed before the Feb. 1 deadline.

Some find online providers who offer courses that they can finish at their leisure. Others turn to MCLE audiotapes and self-study courses like those offered by the State Bar of California.

Others find that getting local with courses through county bar associations, law schools and other local CLE providers offers a strategic advantage, providers say. Local judges and mediators are often recruited to give MCLE seminars.

“We’re talking about the way that certain judges run their courtrooms, or different areas of law that have their ways of conducting mediation,” said Sally J. Elkington, president of the Alameda County Bar Association in Oakland. “They just vary from county to county.”

Whether attorneys have the full 25 hours to complete or just a few, there are still opportunities to get them locally. The Contra Costa Bar Association held its “MCLE Spectacular” on Nov. 16, and the Alameda County Bar Association held its “MCLE Compliance Countdown” on Dec. 7.

  • The San Mateo County Bar Association hosts its “Funky Credit Day” on Jan. 25 at the Hilton San Francisco Airport Hotel. It’s a kind of crash course day for hard-to-find credits, such as ethics or substance abuse.
  • The Orange County Bar Association also hosts its Annual “OCBA Last Dash” in mid-January to squeeze in the last of the 25 hours required by the State Bar. The OCBA offers credits in all categories.
  • The Sonoma County Bar Association hosts “The Blitz” in January. During the month, the organization offers live and video programs, including updates on employment and family law and an ethics- and elimination of bias-eligible course on transgender rights.
  • Six hours of CLE credit come with the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s “MCLE Extravaganza” on Jan. 11.
  • The Los Angeles County Bar Association doesn’t host a special push in the winter, but it does offer its “CLE in a Box,” a one-stop shop for all 25 credits, throughout the year.

Some bar associations, such as the Alameda County Bar Association, also have their own online tracking tool to record MCLE hours.

Law schools also offer last-minute programs to help attorneys meet the MCLE requirement.

The University of San Diego School of Law will host a series of CLE programs in mid-January, including:

Pepperdine offers CLE throughout the year. But this year’s presidential election and the upcoming MCLE compliance deadline made Pepperdine University’s forum on tax changes particularly timely, said Deanell Tacha, dean of the law school. This year, the forum will feature Paul Caron, the writer of TaxProf Blog, one of the most popular blogs in the nation.

“The local law schools have some outstanding [CLE] offerings that bring together nationally known experts on various topics,” including those who shape tax policy for the country, Tacha said. “There are experts in our own backyards.”