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Rules & Regulations

Q. Where do I find the rules and regulations for the administration of the CLE program?

See 27 NCAC 1D, Sections .1500 and .1600.

Q. How do I find out if the CLE Board has approved a request for credit that I recently submitted?

The CLE department will send you a letter once the course has been reviewed letting you know if it has been approved for credit and if so, the number and type of credit given. Most applications for credit take 45 days from the time of receipt to process. 

Q. I am planning to seek reinstatement to active status in North Carolina. Are there any special CLE requirements for that process?

Yes. If you have been inactive or suspended for one year, see the instructions accompanying the short form petition for reinstatement.

If you have been inactive or suspended for more than one year, see the instructions accompanying the long form petition for reinstatement.

Q. How do I claim an exemption from CLE requirements?

You must claim your exemption on your annual report form each year by checking the appropriate exemption and returning the form by February 28. All exemptions must be reported on a yearly basis. For special circumstances exemptions only, you must write to (not email) the Exemption Committee of the Board of Continuing Legal Education and request the exemption, explaining the reasons and providing any supporting documentation you feel would be helpful. The Exemption Committee will consider your request and reply in writing within 30 days. A special circumstances exemption is only valid for one calendar year.

Q. May an active member of the North Carolina State Bar be exempt from the CLE requirements?

Yes, an active member of the bar may qualify for one of the specified exemptions listed at 27 NCAC 1D, Rule .1517, or apply to the Board of Continuing Legal Education for an exemption based upon disability, hardship, or extenuating circumstances.

Q. What fees am I assessed by the CLE program of the State Bar?

For every CLE hour for which you seek credit on your CLE record with the State Bar, you will be assessed a fee of $3.50. Accredited sponsors typically collect this fee with their charges for a program and forward the money to the CLE department of the State Bar. When the sponsor does not pay the fee, the lawyer is responsible for the fee. Lawyers will receive a bill for their attendee fees after they return their annual report forms each year. Of the $3.50 per credit hour assessed, $1.25 supports the CLE program of the State Bar, $1 goes to the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism to support its program to enhance the professionalism of North Carolina lawyers, $1 to the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, and $0.25 to the State Bar to administer the funds distributed to the commissions.

Q. Do I have any mandatory reporting requirements?

Yes. In January of every calendar year, you will receive an annual report form showing all of the information that the CLE department has on your CLE credit hours for the entire preceding calendar year. All active members of the North Carolina State Bar must return this form, regardless of exemption and regardless of whether you have participated in any CLE activities in the preceding calendar year. This form must be signed and returned to the CLE department by February 28 to avoid a $75 late penalty. If you still have a deficit from the prior year, please do not hold your form until the hours are completed. Returning the form is a separate obligation from completing the hours.

Q. Does North Carolina have reciprocal arrangments for accepting CLE courses from other states?

No. Please use our course search function to see if the class has been approved in North Carolina. If not, please ask the sponsor to apply on your behalf or use the Bar Member's Application for CLE Credit to apply. Please note: certificates of attendance from other states are not sufficient to add credits to your CLE record if the course has not been approved for North Carolina CLE credit. You must submit a Bar Member's Application for Credit, along with the required supporting documentation.

Hours & Requirements

Q. How many CLE hours do I have to take each calendar year?

An active member of the North Carolina State Bar who does not qualify for an exemption must take 12 hours of approved CLE during each calendar year. Of the 12 CLE hours, at least two must be devoted to the area of professional responsibility (ethics) or professionalism. Effective in 2019, at least one hour must be devoted to technology training. At least once every three calendar years, you must complete one hour on substance abuse and debilitating mental conditions. This hour is credited to the 12 hour requirement for the year but not to the two hour professional responsibility requirement. See 27 NCAC 1D, Rule .1518.

Q. May I take any of the required hours online?

Yes, beginning in 2020, members may take all of their CLE hours online. For members trying to satisfy a deficit prior to 2020, they may take up to six hours of online credit each year towards their CLE requirements. 

Q. Are teleconferences or live webcasts considered “online” courses?

No. These types of courses are treated as live programs.

Q. How do I find out if the CLE Board has approved a specific class that I want to take?

Click here to search for courses.

Q. How are my CLE hours reported to the CLE department of the North Carolina State Bar?

Most sponsors of CLE seminars report the credit hours to the CLE department for you. Out-of-state sponsors and non-accredited sponsors may not report the hours to the CLE department. Please be sure to check your interim and annual report forms for accuracy. If a class you took is not listed or misreported on the form, please make corrections and return the form to us so we can correct our records. You can also send us a copy of your certificate of attendance, if you received one; you do not need to wait for the interim or annual report form to do so.

Q. How do I receive approval for a CLE activity if the sponsor does not seek credit on my behalf?

Complete a bar member’s application for CLE credit. Attach all requested documentation and return the completed packet to the CLE Department. You may use regular mail or submit via email.

Before you submit a course for approval, please be sure to review the procedures and required forms and supplemental materials. Incomplete applications will significantly delay the review process. Go to the accreditation procedure page for more detailed information on the process.

Q. How do I find out how many CLE hours I need to fulfill my requirements for a given calendar year?

Using your State Bar member number and Member Access password, you may login on the CLE website to view your real-time CLE transcript. If you don't have internet access, call the CLE department at (919) 733-0123 or write to the CLE department at PO 26148, Raleigh, NC 27611. See the preceding questions for information about the interim and annual report forms that are mailed to you by the CLE department.

Q. Am I ever exempt from returning my Annual Report Form?

No. All active members of the State Bar must return a signed, dated annual report form each year before February 28.

Q. If I obtain an exemption from the CLE requirements, am I also exempt from the mandatory annual dues owed to the North Carolina State Bar?

No. To be exempt from the mandatory dues, a lawyer must change his or her State Bar membership status to inactive. To learn more about inactive status, contact the Membership department at 919-828-4620.

Q. Do I receive any other written forms from the CLE department about my CLE credit hours during the year?

Yes. In August of each calendar year, you will receive an email reminder to view your interim report form online. The interim report will contain all the information the CLE department has on your record for the first six months of the year (January 1 – June 30). Please read through this report carefully. If you see omissions or errors, you must correct and return the interim report form to the CLE department by October 31.

Q. Do I get additional credit for teaching a CLE seminar?

Yes. You are entitled to one hour of CLE credit for every ten minutes of actual instruction. To report this time to the CLE department, complete the Request for Teacher Credit of an Approved Continuing Legal Education Activity form.

Q. Is there a grace period if I fail to complete the annual CLE requirements by the end of the calendar year?

If the deficit is cured in January or February of the subsequent year, there is no penalty. If the deficit is not cured within this time frame, you may be subject to monetary penalties or suspension. See 27 NCAC 1D, Rules .1523.

Q. How do I report hours taken during the grace period?

Most NC sponsors will report the attendance for you; however, you may attach a certificate of completion to your annual report form. Because the annual report form should only contain hours taken during the calendar year, you should not add classes taken during the grace period to the form.

Q. May I carry forward excess CLE hours over into the next calendar year?

Yes, members may carry over into the next calendar year up to 12 credit hours, including two hours of professional responsibility and 10 hours of general credit hours. Newly admitted members may carry over into the next year any approved CLE hours earned after the member's graduation from law school. See 27 NCAC 1D, Rule .1518.

Q. Will I get credit for CLE classes I take outside North Carolina?

Yes, in most cases. Each state has different rules and regulations governing CLE. Before you register for a class, please check the North Carolina State Bar Rules and Regulations on CLE to see if the class meets North Carolina’s requirements. See 27 NCAC 1D, Sections .1500 and .1600. No credit will be given for the following: 1. Programs on marketing the law firm or other agency. 2. Programs marketing products or services to the law firm or agency. 3. In-house programs – programs conducted for the benefit of employees of a law firm, legal department, or other members of similar organizations. 4. Self-study (use of books and manuals, audiotapes, non-interactive computer programs or CDs, solitary viewing of video programs, etc.). 5. Bar review/refresher programs. 6. Activities held in conjunction with banquets or other primarily social occasions. 7. Business meetings.

Q. I am licensed as a lawyer in North Carolina and South Carolina and I live and practice in North Carolina. How do I report compliance to the South Carolina Commission on CLE?

A lawyer who is licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina (and who lives and practices in North Carolina) may report compliance to the South Carolina Commission on CLE by mailing the commission a copy of the lawyer’s North Carolina annual report form along with certificates of attendance for any courses attended that do not appear on the annual report form. The North Carolina forms must be attached to the duly-executed South Carolina Report of Compliance (which is mailed in mid-January) and be accompanied with the appropriate filing fee(s).

South Carolina’s compliance period runs from March 1 through the end of February. The information must be provided to the South Carolina Commission by March 1 of each year. NC annual report forms are mailed in January and only show CLE courses taken through the end of the preceding year. This is why courses taken after December 31 of the preceding year, or courses that do not appear on the NC annual report form, must be reported to the South Carolina Commission by attaching certificates of attendance to the NC annual report form.

Professionalism for New Attorneys Program

Q. Are there special requirements for newly licensed attorneys?

Yes. If you are admitted on or after January 1, 2011, you must complete the 12-hour Professionalism for New Attorneys program. To receive credit for the program, you must also complete a written evaluation provided by the sponsor.

Q. What is the content of the Professionalism for New Attorneys program?

The program consists of 12 hours of training in subjects designated by the North Carolina State Bar, including professional responsibility, professionalism, and law office management.

Q. Do the hours for the Professionalism for New Attorneys program apply to the annual requirements?

Yes. Credit for the program is applied to the annual mandatory 12-hour requirement.

Q. How do I find an approved course to satisfy the Professionalism for New Attorneys requirement?

Click here to search for approved courses.

Q. If I am newly admitted to the North Carolina State Bar but am licensed in another state, do I have to complete the Professionalism for New Attorneys program?

A member who is licensed by a United States jurisdiction other than North Carolina for five or more years prior to admission to practice in North Carolina is exempt from the Professionalism for New Attorneys program requirement and must notify the board of the exemption in the first annual report sent to the member.

Q. Can the Professionalism for New Attorneys program be taken online?

Professionalism for New Attorneys courses may be taken via live webcast, but they may not be taken online (via the Internet) on demand. They may be taken as a prerecorded program provided at least one hour of each six-hour block consists of live programming.