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The Commission on Continuing Legal Education

Commission on Continuing Legal Education  

Judicial Branch Building  

1111 East Court Avenue 

Des Moines, Iowa  50319 

(515) 725-8029  



The Commission on Continuing Legal Education administers a program established by the court which requires attorneys to attend continuing legal education (CLE) classes each year. Lawyers and judges must complete a minimum of 15 hours of legal education accredited by the Commission.   Hours in excess of the minimum requirements may be carried over subject to specific restrictions.  The minimum number of legal education hours must include at least three hours every two years, of education devoted exclusively to legal ethics. Click here for the Court Rules regulating CLE. This requirement helps ensure that lawyers and judges keep abreast of the latest legal developments. 


The current ethics biennium is 1/1/2016 - 12/31/2017.  Attorneys must attend at least three hours of ethics during this two year period. 

     - CLE & Client Security reports and fees are due by March 10th  -


In April of 2014, the Supreme Court amended the due date for submission of annual reports by active lawyers to the Commission on CLE and to the Client Security Commission.  The change was implemented to accommodate the scheduling of the winter bar exam.  It affords attorneys additional time in which to file their annual reports and pay their annual fees.  The order and rule changes are available here:  Annual Report Rule Changes  



Distance Learning Rules and Draft Guidelines 


The Court adopted changes in Division III of the Iowa Court Rules, pertaining to the use of distance education in continuing legal education (CLE).  The changes were recommended by the commission following the commission's study of distance education practices and the provisions of Iowa CLE rules.  The rule changes and a summary are available here:  Rule Change 


The commission adopted guidelines for unmoderated CLE activities at its meeting in May, 2014.   The guidelines are available here: Unmoderated Activity Guidelines 


CLE by Reciprocity for Non-Resident Iowa Attorneys Not Practicing Law in Iowa 


Iowa Court Rule 41.9 adopts a reciprocity reporting alternative with respect to continuing legal education (CLE) attendance, intended to ease the reporting process for out-of-state attorneys and reduce the number of out-of-state CLE events submitted for accreditation in Iowa. The rule allows non-resident attorneys to certify attendance of the same number of clock hours required for resident Iowa attorneys, and that those hours were accredited by the CLE regulatory body in the attorney's resident state or the District of Columbia. The rule denies the out-of-state reporting exemption to attorneys who, although residing outside Iowa, are in fact practicing in Iowa.  


Attorneys who qualify for CLE reporting by reciprocity are still required to log in to their lawyer account page during the normal annual reporting period and file a report. However, you now have the option to file the normal annual CLE report or the reciprocity report. If you elect to file the reciprocity report then you must certify as part of the submission process that you meet all of the requirements of rule 41.9. You must also pay the normal annual CLE administrative fee (currently $10), and any late filing fees that might apply.     


During the process you will be required to specify the number of CLE hours and ethic hours you claim by reciprocity for the reporting year. This permits normal CLE calculations, including carryforward hours, to facilitate movement back and forth between the regular CLE report and the reciprocity report from year to year in case you relocate to Iowa or begin to practice law in Iowa. Once you log into your account you will see the option for filing CLE by Reciprocity. 


Policies on Approval of CLE Events for Credit (Accreditation) 


Basic standards on accreditation of CLE events are contained in Iowa Court Rule 42.3:    


(1) A continuing legal education activity quali­fies for accreditation if the commission determines that the activity complies with all of the following: 


a. It constitutes an organized program of learning (including a workshop or symposium) that contributes directly to the professional competency of an attorney. 

b. It pertains to common legal subjects or other sub­ject matters that integrally relate to the practice of law. 


c. It is conducted by attorneys or individuals who have a special education, training, and experience by rea­son of which said individuals should be considered experts concerning the subject matter of the program, and preferably is accompanied by a paper, manual, or written outline that substantively pertains to the subject matter of the program. 


d. It is presented in the form of moderated programming, or in the form of unmoderated programming approved the commission in its guidelines.    


(2) No activity will be accredited that involves solely self-study, including television viewing, video or sound recorded programs, or correspondence work, ex­cept as may be allowed pursuant to rule 42.5.   



In addition, the Commission has adopted policies regarding accreditation of CLE events, based on Iowa Court Rule 42.3 and its experience.  Click here for a copy of those policies.  



Forms (download a copy) 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Accreditation application forms no longer are provided.  Lawyers and sponsors should submit applications for accreditation online using their lawyer or sponsor account pages.  See the OPR Forms & Tutorials page for instructions.  


Application for a Certificate of Exemption.  An Iowa-licensed attorney who does NOT in fact practice law in Iowa may apply for a certificate of exemption from CLE requirements, pursuant to Iowa Court Rule 42.6.  Chapter 42 of the Iowa Court Rules should be carefully examined regarding eligibility and reinstatement requirements before applying for exemption.    

Searchable Database of Approved CLE Events:  You may perform basic and advanced searches of all the CLE events approved by the Commission at this page on the Professional Regulation Online Services web site:  CLE Search Page 


Approved CLE Events Scheduled During 2017: Download the list in Portable Document Format (PDF) or Excel (XLS) format. 


Commission Members 

The commission is composed of twelve members - ten Iowa lawyers and two residents who are not lawyers appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court. Members shall be appointed for a term of three years except when appointed to fill an unexpired term. No member shall serve more than two consecutive complete terms.  

The Honorable Jeffrey Neary, Merrill, Chair 

Danielle Shelton, Des Moines 

Dr. Chia Ning, Pella 

Diana L. Rolands, Osceola 

Mindi M. Vervaecke, Mason City 

Bryan D. Swain, Harlan 

Joni Keith, Ottumwa 

Dr. Elaine Smith-Bright, Des Moines 

Janece Valentine, Fort Dodge 

Daniel P. Kitchen, Washington 

Margaret J. Popp Reyes, Council Bluffs 

Michael G. Pagel, Dubuque 






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