Many professions require maintaining some kind of professional licensure. The practice of law is no exception. The State Bar of California has stringent measures in place to make sure that California attorneys remain up to date with their legal knowledge and skills. This is important in order to maintain an appropriate level of professional competence in the ever-changing world of law.
Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirement
California attorneys are required to undergo a minimum of 25 hours of Continuing Legal Education training every three years. After you complete these hours, you must file a report with the State Bar detailing the trainings they took.
There are certain requirements for how this 25-hour requirement must be met. For example, up to 12.5 of the hours may be satisfied through self-study.
In addition, at least four of the hours must be on the topic of legal ethics. An additional hour must be on the topic of attorney competence, and another hour must be on the recognition and elimination of bias in the legal profession.
In California, attorneys who regularly perform legal work for clients are considered “active,” while attorneys who are otherwise employed or unemployed for sufficient time are considered “inactive.”
California has different annual fee requirements for active and inactive attorneys. If you are an active attorney, you must pay $515 to the State Bar by February 1st of each year. If you are inactive, you must pay $182.40 by February 1st.
If you fail to pay your fees on time, you risk losing your status as a member of the State Bar, and can face other penalties as well.
In addition to the above pro-active steps, an attorney must avoid unethical behavior in order to remain in good standing with the California Bar. Licensed attorneys must comply at all times with the California Rules of Professional Conduct. Failure to do so can result in a suspension or revocation of your Bar license.
Complying with professional standards and requirements can be quite complex. Nevertheless, it’s best to stay up to date with the California Bar’s requirements in order to avoid having issues with your ability to make a living in your chosen profession.