By: Omar Issa

What Are the Requirements for Continuing Legal Education in New York?

Becoming a lawyer doesn’t mean the end of the line for your legal education. After law school and passing the New York State Bar, you’ll still have to complete your New York CLE requirements every couple years so that you can stay in good standing with the state and continue to practice law.

But today, it’s easier than ever to satisfy your CLE requirements via online courses that you can complete from the comfort of home. That can help avoid having to attend a session in person and all the complications that come with it, and it can also make meeting your NY CLE requirements possible without such a disruption to your schedule.

Aside from making it easier for attorneys to fulfill their CLE requirements, online courses often make CLE much quicker and easier, allowing attorneys to sign up for asynchronous or scheduled instruction without worrying about where they may be on a given day.

Experienced Attorneys in New York

For those who have already been practicing law, the NY CLE requirements are fairly straightforward. Attorneys must complete 24 CLE credit hours during the two-year period between state bar attorney registrations. However, the credit hours must be split among certain areas of study, including at least four hours in the Ethics and Professionalism category. One credit hour must also be in the Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias category.

While that only makes up five of the total 24 credit hours needed, it does mean that experienced attorneys are free to fulfill the rest of the CLE requirements via CLE courses and instruction in a credit category of their choosing. That includes instruction in a traditional live classroom format, as well as other formats such as audio instruction, videoconferencing and online CLE courses, though each course or credit hour and provider must be deemed valid by the New York State CLE Board. Credit can also be earned if a given course or instruction meets the requirements set out under New York’s Approved Jurisdiction policy.

Newly-Admitted Attorneys in New York

Compared to experienced attorneys, which are required to complete 24 credit hours in a two-year period, newly-admitted attorneys in New York must complete 32 credit hours of accredited transitional education within two years of being admitted to the Bar. Each of the two years, 16 credit hours must include three hours of ethics and professionalism, six hours of skills and seven hours of law practice management and areas of professional practice.

By the end of the first year, 16 of the credits must be completed with an additional 16 credits being completed between the first and second anniversaries of being admitted to the New York Bar. Normally, the skills credit must be completed via in-person courses, though during the COVID-19 pandemic attorneys are allowed to complete their credits via live videoconference or courses that have been approved by the CLE board.

The Ethics and Professionalism credits are valid in-person or online as long as the program has been approved by the CLE board, though if no audience questions are allowed while the course takes place then credit may not be granted due to the asynchronous nature of the instruction.

In the areas of Professional Practice and Law Practice Management, valid NY CLE credits can be earned via any format, be it in-person instruction, an online course or on-demand video.

The New York Approved Jurisdiction Policy

As for the jurisdiction policy itself, which was made effective on November 1, 2014, it states that attorneys in the state of New York are able to fulfill their NY CLE requirements via out-of-state courses that are accredited by a New York Approved Jurisdiction. The policy applies to both in-person class formats and online CLE courses that utilize technology such as pre-recorded videos and teleconferences.

The following states are approved jurisdictions: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and the Law Society of Hong Kong, which means that any CLE credits earned in those territories will be approved as valid CLE credits in the state of New York.

For those that have earned CLE credits in Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, written materials will have to be retained and submitted with your CLE requirements. That includes either all the course materials or a table of contents and the first 10 pages of course materials so that they can be adequately reviewed.

There is one exception for California, which states that if a course is more than 60 minutes long, written materials are not needed as the state itself requires written materials of its own for review.

However, if you’re attempting to meet your NY CLE requirements via continuing education that took place in or online instruction with a company based in one of the New York Approved Jurisdictions, you must keep your documentation for at least four years.

If you’ve been a member of the New York Bar for more than two years — an experienced attorney — the submission process requires provide proof of attendance for the course, proof of accreditation from a New York Approved Jurisdiction, proof that written course materials were made available, proof that the faculty included at least one attorney in good standing and proof of acceptable attendance verification for nontraditional-format courses such as online CLE courses.

For newly admitted attorneys, or those that have been a member of the New York Bar for two or less years, out-of-state requirements are: proof of attendance, proof of accreditation, proof of written course materials, proof that at least one member of the faculty is in good standing, and proof that the course content itself was appropriate for newly admitted attorneys.

Calculating and Reporting Credit

After you’ve taken the required courses to satisfy your NY CLE requirements, the work isn’t over. Not only do all attorneys need to calculate the number of credits they received according to New York standards (based on a 50-minute hour in 25-minute increments, rounding down to the nearest 0.5 credit), but each also needs to determine the appropriate categories for each credit, including them in the biennial Attorney Registration form.

For more on meeting your NY CLE requirements and the many courses that can satisfy your requirements from the comfort of home, browse the NY CLE bundles and online courses available at TRTCLE.