Frequently Asked Questions

General Information Questions

  • What is the purpose of continuing legal education?
    The purpose of minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements is to promote and sustain competence and professionalism and to ensure that attorneys remain current on the law, law practice management, and technology in our rapidly changing society. Maine Bar Rule 5 establishes minimum requirements for continuing legal education, accreditation criteria, and compliance procedures.
  • What is the purpose of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Committee?
    The CLE Committee of the Board oversees the administration of Maine Bar Rule 5, reviews the effectiveness and efficiency of the CLE requirements, monitors the availability and quality of CLE programs for members of the bar, publishes policy statements and regulations, and recommends proposed changes or additions to the rule to the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
  • What are the standards for accreditation of MCLE Programs?
    To be accredited, a program must meet the following standards described in Rule 5(g): (A) The program must have significant intellectual or practical content designed to promote attorney competence and must deal primarily with matters related to the practice of law, ethics and professionalism, or law practice management. (B) Interdisciplinary programs, if pertinent to an individual attorney‘s practice, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. (C) Although written materials may not be appropriate for all courses, they are expected to be utilized whenever possible. Written course materials may be provided in paper or digital format, in advance or at the time of the activity. (D) Program presenters must be qualified with the necessary practical and/or academic experience to teach the topics covered. (E) The program must be presented in a suitable environment conducive to learning. (F) The program must last 30 minutes or longer. (G) With the exception of certain self-study programs, the sponsor must monitor the program for attendance and certify such attendance to the CLE Committee. Notwithstanding the minimum requirements set forth in this Rule, the following activities are not eligible for MCLE Credit: (A) A meeting of a bar association, committee, section, or other entity composed of attorneys, that is intended primarily to be a general business meeting or work session as opposed to an MCLE program; (B) A program that is intended primarily to market a product or service to attorneys; (C) A program that is intended primarily to attract clients; (D) Discussions related to the handling of specific cases within a law firm, corporate law department, governmental agency, or similar entity; (E) A program that teaches nonlegal skills, general communication skills such as public speaking skills, personal money management or investing, general investment principles, career building, rainmaking, or marketing or social media networking skills; (F) Reviewing or reading legal articles, legal journals, or case summaries; (G) A course attended in preparation for admission to practice law in any jurisdiction; or (H) Any other course or activity deemed ineligible by the CLE Committee.
  • What is the distinction between a "live" or "self-study" credit?
    A program is "live" if it is a scheduled activity that an attorney may attend in-person or via electronic medium in which the presenters are available to all course attendees at the time the course is presented, and all attendees can contemporaneously hear or see other attendees’ questions as well as any responses and discussion. A self-study program is typically an on-demand recording of a CLE program or other self-directed activity. Self-study credits are always general credit, even if the original program qualified for ethics or H&D when presented live. Please review Rule 5(h) for more information on credit categories.
  • How to I sign up for courses I find on your website?
    If you find a course you would like to participate in through our website please contact the sponsoring organization to find out how to sign up for their course. Unless the program is one of the Board's CLE events, we are unable to sign you up for courses.
  • What are expired credits on a transcript?
    Expired credits represent the number of credits reported which exceed both the amount needed for the current year compliance and the maximum of 10 which may carry into the next calendar year or exceed the self-study cap for the compliance period.

Lawyer Questions

  • What is the CLE Requirement?
    Every attorney with an active license to practice law in this jurisdiction shall be required to earn a minimum of 12 MCLE credit hours per calendar year. No more than five of the credit hours may be earned through self-study programs as defined in Rule 5(h)(1)(B). As part of the required credit hours referenced in Rule 5(c)(1), attorneys must earn at least one live credit hour in Ethics and Professionalism. Qualifying Ethics and Professionalism topics include professional responsibility, legal ethics, substance abuse and mental health issues, diversity awareness in the legal profession, attorney wellness, and legal malpractice and bar complaint prevention topics including client relations, law office and file management, and client trust account administration. The credit hour required by this section is separate from and in addition to the credit hour required by Rule 5(c)(3). As part of the required credit hours referenced in Rule 5(c)(1), attorneys must earn at least one in-person credit hour in the recognition and avoidance of harassment and discriminatory communication or conduct related to the practice of law as set out in the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct. Qualifying topics include harassment or discriminatory communication or conduct on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The credit hour required by this section is separate from and in addition to the credit hour required by Rule 5(c)(2).
  • Who must comply with the MCLE Requirement?
    Every attorney with an active license to practice law in Maine is required to earn a minimum of 12 MCLE credit hours per calendar year unless they qualify for one of the exemptions listed in Rule 5(d).
  • Who is exempt from complying with the CLE Requirement?
    The following individuals otherwise subject to this Rule are exempted from its requirements: (A) Full-time judges in any state, federal, or tribal court; (B) Active retired state court judges and senior status federal court judges; (C) Full-time teachers in any law school approved by the American Bar Association; (D) Members of the armed forces of the United States who are on active duty outside of this jurisdiction; (E) Residents of another country unless they are actively practicing law in this jurisdiction; (F) Attorneys who have practiced 40 years or more, attained the age of 65 years, and are not engaged in the full-time practice of law; (G) Legislators and members of Congress; (H) Attorneys with active licenses to practice law in this jurisdiction who maintain a principal office for the practice of law in another jurisdiction that requires MCLE and who can demonstrate compliance with the MCLE requirements of that jurisdiction; (I) Nonresident attorneys who are temporarily admitted to practice in this jurisdiction under pro hac vice rules; (J) Attorneys serving as judicial law clerks; (K) Emeritus attorneys; and (L) Attorneys admitted for less than three months of the calendar year. New admittees to the Maine bar who complete an accredited new attorney program that focuses on basic skills and substantive law during the year in which they are admitted are exempt for that year and the following calendar year. In the discretion of the CLE Committee, any individual may be exempted from all or part of the requirements of this Rule upon a showing of hardship or for other good cause shown pursuant to procedures to be established by the CLE Committee. An exemption may not be granted in successive years for the same or similar hardship.
  • If my principal office for the practice of law is in another jurisdiction do I have report credits to Maine?
    You do not need to report your credits to Maine if your principal office for the practice of law is in a jurisdiction with mandatory CLE, and you are a member of the bar in that jurisdiction and in compliance with their CLE requirement. You will need to certify on your annual MCLE report to Maine each January that you meet these conditions. The most common jurisdictions without mandatory CLE are Massachusetts and Washington D.C. If your principal office for the practice of law is in those jurisdictions then you need to report your CLEs to Maine and meet the annual requirement. If you are in a jurisdiction with mandatory CLE, but you are not a member of the bar in that jurisdiction, you must report your credits to Maine and meet the annual requirement.
  • When must I complete my MCLE requirement?
    CLE compliance follows a calendar year schedule. Your annual requirement should be completed on or below December 31st. If you are not in compliance by the annual deadline there is an automatic grace period which expires at 4:30pm on the last business day of February.
  • What is the annual MCLE report due?
    Rule 5(e) requires all active attorneys to file a MCLE Annual Report Statement. When filing this report the attorney certifies the accuracy of the courses on their record and/or certifies they qualify for an exemption. The reporting filing period begins the first week of January for the previous MCLE compliance year. The report must be completed by the last business day of February.
  • What if I remain out of compliance after close of business on the last business day of February?
    Attorneys who remain deficient on the close of business on the last business day of February shall be assessed a noncompliance fee in an amount set by the CLE Committee. Administrative suspension may occur 30 days after the Board mails a letter pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 4(g) if the attorney fails to pay the fee and report the required credits.
  • What if I take more credits than are required for the year?
    Each calendar year, attorneys may carry over up to 10 credit hours to satisfy the requirements of the following year, provided that no more than five of the credit hours may be earned through self-study programs as defined in Rule 5(h)(1)(B). The mandatory live credit requirements of Rule 5(c)(2) must be satisfied for each reporting period. All carry over credits are general credits. The ethics and H&D credit requirement must be completed each calendar year. Excess ethics and H&D credit cannot satisfy your requirement for the subsequent year.
  • If I take more H&D credits than required will it count towards my other requirements?
    Yes. If you have already earned a H&D credit within the calendar year any subsequent H&D credit you earn will be applied towards your outstanding general OR ethics requirement. If you have already met all your requirements your excess H&D credit will carry over to the next year as a general credit subject to the limit of 10 carry over credits.
  • If I take more ethics credits than required will it count towards my other requirements?
    Yes. If you have already earned an ethics credit within the calendar year any subsequent ethics credit you earn will be applied towards your outstanding general requirement. It will NOT cover your H&D requirement. If you have already met your general credit requirement your excess ethics credit will carry over to the next year as a general credit subject to the limit of 10 carry over credits.
  • May I earn credit for independent/self-study activities?
    Yes. The following activities qualify for independent/self-study credit: The following programs may qualify for self study credit: “Independent Study” – viewing or listening to a pre-recorded CLE audio, video, digital media, or other such programs; “Authorship” – upon written request, attorneys may be awarded ethics and professionalism credit hours each calendar year for authoring or co-authoring written material that is published in a legal periodical, journal, book, or treatise approved by the CLE Committee; and “Volunteer Service” upon written request, attorneys may be awarded up to three ethics and professionalism credit hours each calendar year for their volunteer service as members of a board, commission, or committee established by the Court or the Board, which is primarily concerned with ethics or professional responsibility. Credits may also be awarded to court-appointed receivers and monitors.
  • May I earn credit for authoring a publication?
    Yes. Upon written request to the Board, attorneys may be awarded up to 5 credit hours each calendar year for authoring or co-authoring written material that is published in a legal periodical, journal, book, or treatise approved by the CLE Committee. A copy of the publication and a $25 fee should accompany the written request.
  • May I earn credit for attending or auditing a regularly scheduled course offered at an accredited law school?
    Yes. Upon written request to the Board, an attorney who formally takes for credit or officially audits a regularly scheduled course offered for academic credit at a law school approved by the American Bar Association will earn four credit hours under this rule for every hour of academic credit awarded by the institution for the course, provided that the attorney attends at least 75% of the classes in the course and, if enrolled for academic credit, receives a passing grade. The request should be accompanied by documentation of passing completion of the course and a $25 fee payment.
  • May I earn credit for a MCLE course I attended in another state?
    Yes. If the course sponsor has not applied for accreditation in Maine you may self-apply for accreditation using our application form. Courses or activities approved by another mandatory continuing legal education state and certified by that state’s CLE regulatory authority are presumptively approved for an equal amount of credit in Maine.
  • What if I attended a course that has not been approved as an MCLE activity?
    If a course sponsor chooses not to submit an application for accreditation of a program, an individual attorney may submit an application, together with the requisite fee, in advance of, but no later than 60 days following the program completion date. A late fee will be assessed for untimely submissions.
  • If I take a course not meant for lawyers, but relevant to my practice, may I get CLE credit?
    Interdisciplinary programs, if pertinent to an individual attorney’s practice, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please file the CLE accreditation form with the normal supporting documents along with a note explaining how the program is relevant to your practice. You may be awarded CLE credit in an amount not equal to the amount of hours you attended.
  • May I request a hardship exemption?
    In the discretion of the CLE Committee, any individual may be exempted from all or part of the requirements of this Rule upon a showing of hardship or for other good cause shown pursuant to procedures to be established by the CLE Committee. An exemption may not be granted in successive years for the same or similar hardship. To request a hardship exemption you may submit your written request to the CLE Director. Your request will be forwarded to the CLE Committee for review.
  • How long should I keep my MCLE records?
    It is recommended that attorneys retain MCLE records for a minimum of two years.
  • How do I seek reinstatement if I am administratively suspended due to non-compliance with the MCLE requirement?
    Attorneys who are suspended pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 4(g) may seek reinstatement under Maine Bar Rule 4(i).
  • Is CLE compliance no longer at the same time as registration renewal?
    Correct. In 2019 the annual registration process and CLE compliance were separated. The CLE compliance calendar now follows the calendar year.
  • How long does it take for my credits to appear on my transcript?
    It can take up to 45 days from the time you complete a course for it to posted to your transcript. Course sponsors have 30 days to report attendance for their course to the Board. Once attendance has been submitted to the Board it can take 1-15 days for that data to be entered in our system depending on how how busy our office is. Although it can take up to 45 days, most sponsors report much sooner than the 30 days they are allowed and your will see your credits appear much sooner. If you are unsure whether your course sponsor has or will report your attendance for you please contact them.
  • Can courses I completed before my admission to the bar count towards my MCLE requirement?
    No, courses completed prior to the date of your admission to the bar cannot be added to your record.

Sponsor Questions

  • What is the application procedure for program accreditation?
    Applications may be submitted to the CLE Director via email or mail. Applications must be filed at least 30 days before the program date to avoid a late fee. When submitting by email please attach a copy of your fee payment receipt to your email. If you prefer to pay by check please include your application with you check and do not email the application. Following course approval you will receive an email from our system containing a link to your formal approval letter. Please download this letter for your records and make note of your course number. You are responsible for reporting attendance at your program to the Board no later than 30 days after the program date. Please include your course number with your attendance report along with the names, bar numbers and amount of credits earned by attendees.
  • Do in-house programs for “live” credit?
    Yes. In-house programs that meet the standards contained in M. Bar Rule 5(h) qualify for “live” credit. Previous to a 2018 rule change in-house activities only qualified for self-study credit.
  • What is the course accreditation fee?
    Please refer to our fee schedule. The standard application fee is $60 for non-approved sponsors. Sponsors who has applied for and received the special "Approved Sponsor" status pay the reduced amount of $50. There is an additional late fee of $50 due when submitting an application later than 30 days before a program date.
  • Is Maine a 50 or 60 minute credit hour state?
    Maine is a 60 minute credit hour state. Credit hours will not be given for time spent on nonsubstantive matters such as introductory remarks, breaks, or business meetings.
  • What is the minimum amount of time that will qualify for CLE credit?
    A program must be at least 30 minutes in order to receive CLE credit. Similarly, an attorney who does not attend all of a program must attend for a minimum of 30 minutes in order to receive partial credit.
  • How do I report course attendance?
    Your course attendance may be reported to the Board by mail or by emailing the CLE Director. Your attendance should be reported in a format that clearly identified the course number, attendee's names, bar numbers, and the amount of credits the earn earned. Please report credits earned and not minutes attended. Credits must be reported within 30 days of the program completion in order to avoid late fees.
  • Must the sponsor report credits or can we require attorneys to self-report?
    Sponsors must report attendance for live programs. Sponsors may require attorneys to self-report completion of on-demand programs if you provide them with a certificate which includes the self-study course accreditation number.

GAL CPE Questions

  • How does a program sponsor apply to the Board for approval of CPE credit for a course or activity?
    Please email Aria Eee at aeee@mebaroverseers.org to inquire about approving your program for GAL CPE credit.
  • What is the annual CPE requirement for GALs?
    Pursuant to 4 M.R.S. §1553 and Rule 10 of the Maine Rules for Guardians ad Litem, GALs need to earn and report 6 continuing professional education (CPE) credits per calendar year. 1 credit must be ethics and 2 must be Interpersonal Violence credits focused on the impact of domestic abuse and violence on children, the services available in the State for victims of domestic abuse and violence and their children and interventions for those who commit domestic abuse and violence.

11A Applications Questions

MyCLE Access Questions