There are so many benefits to being an NLBM Lawyer—like the fact that members receive incredible coaching support, which you can read more about in our NLBM Coaches Get Your Law Practice Into Shape blog. This time around we’d like to talk to you about one of our “unsung hero” program benefits: Continuing Legal Education (CLE).
It’s our experience that Entrepreneurial Lawyers are naturally inquisitive and, thus, always in a learning mode, which means you’re very motivated to stay up with your CLE course credits. The New Law Business Model offers you an easy way to earn those credits even as you embark upon your NLBM journey, which is a real time-saving advantage. In fact, that’s exactly what NLBM Member Lawyer Bethany Gilson did.
Just like Bethany, you can begin earning CLE credits sooner rather than later, and we’ll tell you how to do that shortly. First, we’d like to provide you with a quick overview of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements in various states.
It’s not a news bulletin that lawyers are part of what’s called the “self-regulated” legal profession and, depending upon the state in which you practice, you have varying mandates on the type of—and hours—that are required to complete MCLE.
What is a bit trickier these days is the changing landscape due to the pandemic which has created a continuing legal education landscape that’s in flux. This includes the multiple ways you can earn credits through online CLE courses, in addition to how the credit requirements are allocated in various subject areas.
For instance, in California, according to The State Bar of California, 25 hours of MCLE (Minimum Continuing Legal Education) are required every three years, with required educational requirements in the categories of ethics, competence issues, and substance abuse and mental health.
Colorado Lawyer—a publication of the Colorado Bar Association— reports that Colorado currently requires attorneys to “...complete 45 CLE credits during a three-year reporting period, of which 7 CLEs are dedicated to ethics.” The New York Bar Association lays out their state’s policy for their attorneys as “a total of 24 accredited CLE credit hours during each biennial reporting cycle” in the areas of Ethics and Professionalism (at least 4 hours), Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias (at least 1 hour), and the remaining 19 credit hours can be in any “category of credit.”
As a lawyer you’re extremely thorough so, no doubt, you’re already triple-checking these requirements. Though the mandate has remained in place that lawyers must stay current with their professional development during COVID, consideration has been taken—and adjustments have been made—during this time period. If you haven’t yet, take a moment to bookmark both your specific state bar association’s website, and the American Bar Association website, so these useful resources will be right there for you when you need them.
While the credit requirements seem fairly straightforward in terms of the required hours, interestingly enough, the credit hour itself is distinguished differently by different distinguished states.
It’s worthwhile to note there is actually a “credit hour” distinction, namely, some states have a 60-minute credit hour, while others have a 50-minute credit hour. We’ve got a handy chart here that shows credit hour designation for each state.
When you join our program we encourage you to kick everything off by pre-registering for earning CLE credits. When you enroll in our Life & Legacy Planning Program, we show you which modules count toward CLE credits.
When you become a member you’ll gain access to the membership hub, which will guide you through the process based upon the state(s) in which you practice. The hub also provides you with a “Track Your Progress” page, so you know exactly where you left off. Also, you can easily click directly through to any CLE Accredited resources because we know the last thing you need to think about when you’re going through the program is navigating around to find more information.
Once you’ve completed all of the CLE material you’ll be asked to fill out a brief survey, and then you’ll receive a Certificate of Completion. Just like that.
The CLE credits you need will vary, depending upon not only the state in which you practice, but also the type of clients you’re serving. In the case of CLE Estate Planning the distinction is whether you’re serving families only, or businesses as well.
Some states offer CLE reciprocity, and it’s not a bad idea to keep your options open, taking CLE classes and earning credits that apply in multiple jurisdictions. After you identify which states offer this opportunity, you’ll want to delve into the specifics about how you can earn the credits.
Each state has different reporting requirements, which means after you complete your CLE credits just submitting your Certificate of Completion might not be enough. Also, some states allow NLBM to report on your behalf, while others require self-reporting.
Whatever the parameters are for earning CLE credits in your state, there’s no time like the present to develop your plan of action. One of our Law Business Advisors can help you with that. They’re only too happy to answer any questions you may have about earning CLE credits, or they can provide you with more information about the NLBM program.
P.S. You’ll actually enjoy the conversation.