Continuing Legal Education
Continuing legal education (CLE; also known as MCLE (mandatory or minimum continuing legal education)) is professional education of lawyers that takes place after their initial admission to the bar
Admission to the bar in the United States
In the United States, admission to the bar is the granting of permission by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system. Each U.S. state and similar jurisdiction has its own court system and sets its own rules for bar admission , which can lead to different admission...

. In many states in the United States, CLE participation is required of attorneys
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 to maintain their license to practice law. CLE requirements exist in many other jurisdictions, such as in British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, Canada. Some jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia and Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 recommend but do not require lawyers to participate in CLE.

United States

In the United States, CLE accreditation is given on a state-by-state basis. There is no nationwide accreditation since CLE programs are administered by the state supreme court
State supreme court
In the United States, the state supreme court is the highest state court in the state court system ....

s through special CLE Commissions or Boards.

CLE credit usually have set hour requirements over a period of years, sometimes with specific hour requirements for special topics including, but not limited to, ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, diversity training
Diversity training
Diversity training is training for the purpose of increasing participants' cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills, which is based on the assumption that the training will benefit an organization by protecting against civil rights violations, increasing the inclusion of different identity groups,...

, elimination of bias, professional responsibility
Professional responsibility
Professional responsibility is the area of legal practice that encompasses the duties of attorneys to act in a professional manner, obey the law, avoid conflicts of interest, and put the interests of clients ahead of their own interests....

, basic skills, substance abuse
Substance abuse
A substance-related disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions associated with several different substances .A substance related disorder is a condition in which an individual uses or abuses a...

, professional, prevention of malpractice
Legal malpractice
Legal malpractice is the term for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, or breach of contract by an attorney that causes harm to his or her client...

, attorney-client disputes and other topics. Credit towards fulfilling CLE requirements is obtained by attending classes, courses, seminars and self-study.

CLE activities are offered throughout the year by state bar association
State bar association
A state bar association is a bar association that represents or seeks to represent all of the attorneys in a specific U.S. state. Membership in such an association may be voluntary or mandatory for practitioners in that state. State bar associations may be tasked with the administration of the...

s, national legal organizations such as the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

, Federal Bar Association
Federal Bar Association
The Federal Bar Association is the primary voluntary professional organization for private and government lawyers and judges practicing and sitting in federal courts in the United States.-Background:...

, law school
Law school
A law school is an institution specializing in legal education.- Law degrees :- Canada :...

s, and many other legal associations and groups such as non-profit CLE providers Practising Law Institute
Practising Law Institute
Practising Law Institute is a non-profit continuing legal education organization chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. Founded in 1933, the company organizes and provides CLE programs around the world...

 (PLI), American Law Institute
American Law Institute
The American Law Institute was established in 1923 to promote the clarification and simplification of American common law and its adaptation to changing social needs. The ALI drafts, approves, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law, model codes, and other proposals for law...

 ALI-ABA Continuing Professional Education (ALI-ABA), The Center for American and International Law
The Center for American and International Law
Formerly known as The Southwestern Legal Foundation, The Center for American and International Law is a non-profit organization that provides continuing education for lawyers, judges, and law enforcement personnel...

 (CAIL), and The Institute of American & Talmudic Law
The Institute of American & Talmudic Law
The Institute of American and Talmudic Law is a non-profit organization that provides accredited Continuing Legal Education to attorneys and other professionals....

 (IAT Law), as well as other private, for-profit enterprises, such as, Continuing Legal Accreditation Seminar Services (CLASS, LLC), CLE-NJ, National Academy of CLE and West LegalEdCenter
West LegalEdCenter
West LegalEdcenter is an online continuing legal education service that is marketed to lawyers and law professionals in the United States. Launched in 2001, it has 7500 programs and 17,000 hours of local, state and national CLE content in its online library...

. Activities are usually open to all lawyers (and sometimes non-lawyers), but organizations often offer discounts to their own members. A recent trend is toward the provision and promotion of free CLE programs.

Uniquely, Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 allows all licensed attorneys in the state to complete their annual CLE requirement without a registration fee through a two-day program known as Kentucky Law Update, offered annually in at least seven locations throughout the state.

In recent years, many states allow CLE activities to be taken on-line as part of distance education
Distance education
Distance education or distance learning is a field of education that focuses on teaching methods and technology with the aim of delivering teaching, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting such as a classroom...

 courses or by listening to audio downloads. Often, a portion of CLE requirements may be satisfied through reading and other self-study as well. CLE activities are usually taught by attorneys and cover legal theory as well as practical experiences in legal practice. Classroom materials can be extensive and may represent the most current and advanced thinking available on a particular legal subject. Competency testing is usually not required as part of CLE.

Experienced attorneys may receive credit for speaking or teaching at an accredited CLE program; for moderating or participating in a panel presentation at an accredited CLE activity; for teaching law courses at an American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

-accredited law school; for preparing students for and judging law competitions, mock trials and moot court arguments, including those at the high school or college level; for published legal research-based writing; and for providing pro bono legal services.


In Canada, rules vary from province to province. For example, Alberta has a mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program, requiring preparation of annual CPD plans. Lawyers develop their plans and declare to the Law Society of Alberta on an annual basis that these are complete. The Legal Education Society of Alberta provides tools to facilitate compliance with these requirements.

The Philippines

Continuing legal education required of members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to ensure that throughout their career, they keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the standards of the practice of law (Rule 1, Bar Matter No. 850 – Supreme Court of the Philippines)

See also

  • Bar Professional Training Course
    Bar Professional Training Course
    The Bar Professional Training Course is a graduate course that is completed by those wishing to be called to the Bar, i.e. to practise as a barrister in England and Wales...

  • National Judges College
    National Judges College
    National Judges College is an educational institute in Beijing under the Supreme People's Court. It is responsible for training the judges of the People's Republic of China...

  • National Judicial Academy (India)
    National Judicial Academy (India)
    National Judicial Academy is an Indian government-funded training institute primarily for Judicial Officers, working in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, during their service. The institute was registered on 17 August 1993 under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. N. R. Madhava Menon was...

External links

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