Mandatory CLE Rules

Mandatory CLE—New York Requirements

There are currently in effect requirements for mandatory continuing legal education, both for newly admitted attorneys and for all other attorneys admitted and practicing in New York. As described in more detail below, one part of the rules applies only to persons admitted here after October 1, 1997, and requires newly admitted attorneys to complete a minimum of 32 hours of accredited transitional education within the first 24 months after admission. This portion of the requirement (Part B) does not apply to attorneys admitted in New York prior to October 1, 1997. The rules pertaining to attorneys admitted prior to October 1, 1997, requiring 24 credits, including at least four in the area of ethics and professionalism, per 24-month biennial reporting period, went into effect on December 31, 1998 (see in particular Part C of the Rules).

Captioned as "Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Program for Attorneys in the State of New York," these rules were adopted in the Joint Rules of the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, and are found at 22 N.Y.C.R.R. part 1500. The mandatory CLE rules can be accessed at NYSBA’s web site at www.nysba.org, from the Unified Court System web site at http://www.courts.state.ny.us/mcle.htm or obtained by calling the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board at (212) 428-2105 (outside of New York City, call toll-free at 1-877-NYS-4CLE). Questions about MCLE requirements may be directed to the NYS CLE Board by e-mail to cle@courts.state.ny.us.

Summary of the Mandatory CLE Rules for Newly Admitted Attorneys During the First Two Years After Admission:

Since the fall of 1997, there has been in place a mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) requirement in New York that applies to persons admitted after October 1, 1997 (this requirement does not apply to attorneys admitted in New York prior to that date). These MCLE rules require newly admitted attorneys to complete a minimum of 32 hours of accredited transitional education within the first 24 months after admission. In broad brush, here are the features of the MCLE rules for newly admitted attorneys:

  • 32 credit hours are required of newly admitted attorneys during the first two years after admission (16 credit hours per year)
  • of the 16 credit hours each year, 3 are to be in the areas of ethics and professionalism; 6 in the area of skills; and 7 in the area of law practice management and various areas of professional practice
  • except for ethics and professionalism credits, 8 credits (in excess of the 16-hour requirement) may be carried over from the first year to the second year, and 6 credits may be carried over from the second year to the next biennial reporting cycle
  • courses taken should be "transitional legal education," i.e., practical skills or basic, entry-level courses
  • no self-study, correspondence work, videotapes or audiotapes, motion picture presentations, or courses online may be used to satisfy these requirements, without special approval from the Board, except for those based in law offices outside the United States, who may fulfill up to 12 credit hours through these formats without prior permission from the Board
  • only accredited courses and programs may be used to satisfy the requirements
  • the Board will maintain a list of approved sponsors - see listing under CLE at www.courts.state.ny.us
  • attendees must receive a certificate of attendance from the sponsor of the program they attended, and such certificates should be retained for four years (attorneys may be asked by the Board to produce a copy, as evidence of attendance)
  • reciprocity will be granted for credits earned at approved courses taken in other MCLE states where New York’s MCLE standards are met
  • there are provisions for waivers, exemptions, and extensions of time to comply, in hardship cases
  • some exemptions will be allowed:

    • attorneys who do not practice in New York
    • full-time, active-duty members of the US Armed Forces
    • attorneys admitted pro hoc vice
    • attorneys who certify that they are retired from practice
    • newly admitted attorneys will certify their compliance by so indicating on their biennial registration form—there will be random audits to monitor compliance
    • non-compliant attorneys will be reported to their Appellate Division for appropriate action

Summary of Requirements for Attorneys in Practice Beyond the First Two Years After Admission to the Bar

A general MCLE requirement is in effect as of December 31, 1998, and applies to all attorneys in New York. Here is a summary of its provisions:

  • twenty-four credit hours must be earned per biennial registration cycle (two years); at least 4 of these credit hours must be earned in the area of ethics and professionalism
  • up to 6 credit hours may be carried over from one biennial reporting period to the next
  • only accredited courses and programs may be used to satisfy the requirements
  • the Board will maintain a list of approved sponsors - see listing under CLE at www.courts.state.ny.us
  • attendees must receive a certificate of attendance from the sponsor of the program they attended, and such certificates should be retained for four years (attorneys may be asked by the Board to produce a copy, as evidence of attendance)
  • in addition to traditional continuing legal education programs, the rules indicate that the following may qualify for credit, upon submission to the CLE Board for verification procedures:
    • videotapes
    • audiotapes
    • motion picture presentations
    • interactive video instruction
    • programs electronically transmitted from another location
    • self-study
    • correspondence work
    • online computer courses
  • credit will be given, under certain circumstances, for speaking and teaching at CLE programs or law school classes, attending law school courses, or legal-research based writing
  • credit will be given, under certain circumstances, for performing pro bono legal services, up to a maximum of 6 credit hours in one reporting cycle
  • credit will be given for judging law competition, mock trials and moot court arguments, including those in high school
  • reciprocity will be granted for credits earned at approved courses taken in other MCLE states where New York’s MCLE standards are met
  • some waivers, extensions, and exemptions will be allowed:

    1. hardship cases, subject to Board approval (waiver or extension)

    2. full-time, active-duty members of the US Armed Forces (exempt)

    3. attorneys admitted pro hac vice (exempt)

    4. attorneys who certify that they are retired from practice (exempt)

    5. judicial and quasi-judicial officials (they are required to attend CLE programs under a different set of rules)
  • attorneys will certify their compliance by so indicating on their biennial attorney registration statement—there will be random audits to monitor compliance
  • non-compliant attorneys will be reported to their Appellate Division for appropriate action

For further questions about these Rules, including those dealing with exemptions from these MCLE rules, or specifics about accreditation of programs, you should contact the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board, 25 Beaver Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Questions may be submitted by e-mail to: cle@courts.state.ny.us.