A permanent program adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania establishing minimum requirements for continuing legal education for Pennsylvania lawyers. The program was established by an order of the Supreme Court dated January 7, 1992 and is administered by the Continuing Legal Education Board.
The public properly expects that lawyers, in the practice of law, will maintain certain standards of professional competence and ethical behavior. The requirement for continuing legal education was established to ensure that, throughout their careers, lawyers admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania remain current regarding the law and maintain the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to fulfill their professional responsibilities.
(Rule 102(a) and Preamble to Regs)
Lawyers who became registered to practice law in Pennsylvania on or after July 1, 1992 must complete a program of continuing legal education as provided by the Rules and Regulations. There shall be no exceptions from this requirement under any circumstance except in the limited instances described in the Regulations.
(Rule 105 and Regulation Section 2 "Scope")
An active lawyer is a member in good standing of the bar and of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, who is not an active or senior member of the judiciary. A lawyer who is active for any part of a year must comply with the Rules and Regulations. An active lawyer is one who has paid the licensing fee (lawyer assessment), regardless of whether they actually engage in the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or elsewhere.
(Rule 102(b) and Regulation Sections 1 "Definitions" and 2 "Scope")
All Pennsylvania lawyers have been permanently assigned to one of three (3) Compliance Groups chosen randomly, by lawyer ID number:
Group I - May 1 through April 30 every year
Group II - September 1 through August 31 every year
Group III - January 1 through December 31 every year
The annual requirement for all compliance groups is twelve (12) total credit hours. Of this total, a minimum of two (2) hours must be in ethics.
(Rule 105(a) and Regulation Section 3, "Minimum Education Requirements")
Attorneys have up until midnight on the day of their deadline to take a course and complete the requirements. Accredited providers are given 30 days from the course date to report the credits. As long as the credits are taken prior to the deadline, the attorney will not be considered non-compliant once the credits are reported.
As long as the minimum annual ethics requirement is met, additional ethics credits will apply to the substantive portion of the CLE requirement. For example, the annual requirement may be met by completing all twelve credits in ethics.
If a lawyer fails to comply under the Rules and Regulations, the Board will send the lawyer a report of non-compliance. The lawyer must, within sixty (60) days from the date of the notice, comply with the Rules and Regulations. In addition, the lawyer must pay a late fee as required by the Board.
(Regulation Section 8)
Those lawyers, who remain out of compliance, by either not completing hours or not paying late fees, will have their names submitted to the Supreme Court on a Non-Compliant List. The Court will issue an order to administrative suspend the licenses of those lawyers who fail to meet the CLE requirement. When the order is issued, non-compliant lawyers are assessed a third $100 late penalty fee.
(Regulation Section 18)
The first step is to contact the CLE Board to advise that you would like to come off the administrative suspension status. The CLE Board will then advise you of your requirements to come back to active status. Once the hours and / or fees are satisfied, the PA CLE Board will certify compliance with the Attorney Registration Office.
Extensions can be granted for lawyers as follows:
(a) Lawyers with medical conditions which prevent from attending CLE courses.
(b) Lawyers residing out of the country.
(c) Lawyers involved in a lengthy trial (i.e., three (3) months and longer)
(d) Severe financial difficulties.
Extension requests can be made by emailing or writing to the PA CLE Board.
a. If the request is due to medical conditions, please include a letter from the physician detailing the medical condition or any form indicating medical condition.
b. If the request is for a lawyer residing out of the country, the lawyer's letter should include how long the lawyer has been out of the country and when the lawyer plans to return.
c. Lawyers requesting extensions due to lengthy trials must include the caption of the case, court term and number, name of the judge, the date trial began, and estimated ending date.
d. Lawyers requesting extensions for financial difficulties must explain, in a letter, their situation in as much detail as possible.
The Board makes available Non-Resident Active Deferral to those lawyers who neither practice law nor reside within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Non-Resident Active Deferral is detailed in (Regulation Section 6(e), "Waivers, Extensions and Deferrals"). To apply for this deferral, log in to your MyPacle account at www.pacle.org. The Non-Resident Deferral must be renewed annually.
License status changes are processed by the Attorney Registration office. For information on assuming inactive status, please visit the Attorney Registration section on the Disciplinary Board’s website.
The processing time to assume voluntary inactive status can take from 4 – 6 weeks during the annual renewal period; however, if you assume voluntary inactive status at any other time in the year, the process is approximately one week.
While on voluntary inactive status, the CLE requirement is deferred. Upon return to active status the lawyer shall complete the CLE requirement by the deadline of the current year (twelve (12.0) hours) and will have until the following compliance deadline to complete the standard requirement plus the deferred CLE requirements. The deferred requirement is not to exceed two (2) times the current annual requirement. Thus the total due in the second year will be thirty-six (36.0) hours.
Upon return to active status the lawyer shall complete the CLE requirement by the deadline of the current year (twelve (12.0) hours) and will have until the following compliance deadline to complete the standard requirement plus the deferred CLE requirements. The deferred requirement is not to exceed two (2) times the current annual requirement. Thus the total due in the second year will be thirty-six (36.0) hours.
Attorneys who reside outside of Pennsylvania have the option to continue deferring their requirement with the Non-Resident Active Deferral. An application for Non-Resident Deferral is available by accessing your MyPacle account online at www.pacle.org.
The Attorney Registration office at the Disciplinary Board processes all requests for return to active status.
Note: Depending on the length of time a license has been inactive, different reactivation instructions apply. If a license has been inactivated for more than three (3) years, additional requirements and procedures are required. More information.
After the Disciplinary Board reactivates a lawyer, the PA CLE Board will inform the lawyer of his/her CLE requirements.
Members of the Judiciary, who have been appointed or elected and are serving as a judicial official of the United States of America and whose position prohibits the individual from the practice of law within the territorial jurisdiction where the individual serves as a judge, are exempt from CLE during the period they are judges. A member of the judiciary returning to regular active status has no deferred requirement but must complete the current requirement within twelve (12) months of returning to active status.
(Regulation Section 6(c))
Active duty military lawyers, assigned outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have their CLE requirements waived for any compliance period of their active duty, upon written request. Within thirty (30) days after termination of active duty, the lawyer must notify the CLE board - and will be required to comply with CLE requirements for the forthcoming year.
(Regulation Section 6(d))
Newly admitted lawyers, including lawyers admitted on motion from other states, shall be exempt from CLE requirements for a period of at least twelve (12) months, not to exceed twenty-four (24) months from the date of admission, depending on the compliance group to which the newly admitted lawyer is assigned and the compliance period for that group.
(Regulation Section 4)
Lawyers on Voluntary Inactive status and those on Non-Resident Active deferral defer their current CLE requirements . NRA deferral must be renewed every year.
(Regulation Section 6(b) and 6(e))
CLE providers will advertise the dates and locations of their presentations. You may contact your local bar association, or access PA CLE's 'Approved Courses' page for a searchable course database that is updated daily.
A provider is a corporation or association which has been accredited by the Board to provide continuing legal education under the PA Rules or a corporation or association which provides one (1) or more continuing legal education courses approved by the Board.
An accredited provider is one who has made application for accredited status and demonstrated to the Board that its CLE activities have consistently met the standards of quality set forth in the Rules and Regulations, or is an accredited law school.
(Regulation Section 11)
An accredited provider is required to notify the Board of your attendance within 30 days after the CLE activity. However, courses taken from other than accredited providers must first be approved by the Board. Once the course is approved, attendance may be reported by the provider or by you with the submission of a properly executed Certificate of Attendance and appropriate attendance fees.
(Regulation Section 14 and Section 18)
No. The key factor is whether the CLE activity is approved by the Pennsylvania CLE Board, not the location of the CLE activity. A complete listing of approved upcoming courses is available by accessing PA CLE's Approved Courses page for a serachable course database that is updated daily.
Each active lawyer shall maintain records sufficient to establish compliance with the CLE requirement in the event of a dispute with the final compliance report.
(Regulation Section 7) The recommendation from the Board is that you maintain those records for three (3) years. The MyPacle account access is intended to assist in tracking of courses and credits.
The Board may assign credit to teaching activities involving courses accredited under the Rules and these Regulations upon receiving a Teaching Application describing the teaching activity. The Teaching Application can be found on our website.
Credit for teaching activities will be given on the basis of two (2) hours credit for each hour of presentation where the applicant has prepared quality written materials for use in the presentation. Credit for repeat presentations or presentations without such materials will be given only for the actual time of presentation.
(Regulation Section 5(b))
Yes, if the law school is approved as a CLE provider, the courses would otherwise qualify under the Rules and Regulations, and the class is not required to qualify for awarding a basic law degree. Courses offered toward graduate or advance degrees may receive credit upon submission of an appropriate grade transcript accompanied by a letter to the Board. One (1) hour of CLE credit may be given for each approved graduate credit you are awarded by the law school.
(Regulation Section 5(f))
Participants shall receive credit of one (1) hour for each sixty (60) minutes for all CLE courses. After attending at least an hour, credit may be granted for each half hour of participation. Credit will not be awarded for participation less than sixty (60) minutes.
Based on the actual time spent at the course, one hour credit will be given for each 60 minutes of instruction, not including introductory remarks or breaks, but including question and answer periods. One half hour credit will be given for attendance of at least 30 minutes beyond the initial 60 minutes.
(Regulation Section 5(a))
If the provider is NOT an accredited provider in PA, you may apply, as an individual, to have the CLE activity approved. CLE activities may be approved even if the provider does not seek approval. (Regulation Section 12) The application for approval is available in the Forms section of this website.
Pennsylvania grants one (1) CLE credit for each 60 minutes of attendance. The attendance fee is $1.50 per credit hour or any portion thereof. Pennsylvania accredits only in whole or half hour increments.
Upon written request, active duty military lawyers, assigned outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have their CLE requirements waived for any compliance period of their active duty. Within thirty (30) days after termination of active duty, the lawyer must notify the board - and will be required to comply with CLE requirements for the forthcoming year.
Example: A lawyer in compliance group 1 with an April 30 annual deadline is called to active duty in February 2007 and serves until July 2008.
Since the period of active military service extends over three compliance periods (those with deadlines of April, 2007; April 2008, April 2009) the CLE requirement for all three compliance cycles is waived.
PA CLE's compliance tracking system will maximize distance learning credits earned each compliance period. Attorneys may complete up to six (6) credits of distance learning per period. Distance learning credits do not carry forward to subsequent compliance periods.
Example: During the 2015 compliance period, a lawyer attends 12 hours of non-distance learning credits. A week before the compliance deadline six more credits are earned via distance learning.
Result: PA CLE's compliance tracking system will apply the six hours of distance learning credit to the 2015 compliance period. The system will carry forward the four remaining non-distance learning credits in accordance with the regular rules and regulations for CLE.
Address changes are processed through the Attorney Registration Office. To update your official address of record, please complete the Request for Address Update Form that can be found on our Forms and Explanations key under the 'Lawyer' icon.