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. Iowa attorneys are required to attend 15 hours of CLE each calendar year. One of those 15 hours must be accredited for legal ethics and one must be accredited for diversity/inclusion in the legal profession OR attorney wellness. While many of the CLE activities are submitted for accreditation by the sponsors, some have not. If you cannot find an activity using the accredited CLE activity search, then you will need to submit the activity itself. As an Iowa lawyer there is no cost for such a submission.
Searching for Already Accredited Activities:
If you are an attorney and wish to add a CLE program to your transcript, you should first look to see whether the sponsor or another attorney has previously received approval for that program. We approve over 12,000 CLE events for each calendar year so there is a strong likelihood that it has already been submitted. You can find out if it has by one of three ways:
Search the On-line Database of Approved CLE Events: You may perform basic and advanced searches of all the CLE events approved by the Commission on the Professional Regulation Online Services website. Using this website you can search in various ways, such as by sponsor, event name, date and location. Once you find the activity, you will need to write down the Activity ID Number as that is what you will place on your CLE transcript.
Search for Events Using the CLE Transcript: The final method of searching consists of using the search function found on an attorney’s CLE transcript after they have logged into their account at Iowa Court Commissions. This is the most common method of searching for CLE activities as they are easily added to the attorney’s transcript after they have been found by simply clicking on the “Add” button next to the CLE activity:
If you cannot locate the CLE activity using one of the above methods, then it likely has not yet been submitted for accreditation and you will need to submit the program to us for accreditation. There is no fee for submission if you are a licensed Iowa attorney who has or will be attending the CLE activity.
How to Submit CLE Activities for Accreditation:
The process for submitting CLE programs for accreditation in Iowa is not difficult as long as you have gathered the requisite materials ahead of time. The crucial item will be a document which corroborates the information you enter into the database. This is often an agenda or flyer from the CLE activity. The document needs to contain the following information:
The name of the sponsor
The name of the activity
The date(s) of the activity
The duration of the activity (e.g. 1pm – 2pm)
The format of the CLE activity (e.g. webinar)
Once you have that information, you will need to log into your account at Iowa Court Commissions. You can then submit your CLE program by clicking on the Submit CLE Program button:
You will then be taken to the submission page. While this page is pretty much self-explanatory, there are a couple of issues which frequently arise. First, you cannot cut and paste into the text fields. You need to type in the information. Second, to upload your attachment you need to first select browse (#1) and after you have located the document, then click on upload (#2). The “Uploaded Files” section to the right of that button will show the name of the file once it is uploaded. Lastly, all fields need to be completed. Once the information is submitted, press the Continue button. If there is anything missing the system will let you know.
Once you have submitted the CLE activity for accreditation, our staff will review it and let you know if it has been approved, denied or if we need additional information. Additional information may include a more detailed agenda (for example, one showing the times) or a copy of the written presentation or powerpoint materials. There is no need to submit this information at the outset so long as you have uploaded a document as per the earlier description. Most of the time we are able to accredit CLE activities based on the initial submission, but if we need more we will let you know. Also, we strive for a 48 hour turnaround on CLE accreditations, but can’t guarantee it.
What Constitutes Continuing Legal Education:
The basic standards on accreditation of CLE events are contained in Iowa Court Rule 42.3:
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.
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. (underline added)
In addition, the Commission has adopted policies regarding accreditation of CLE events (PDF), based on Iowa Court Rule 42.3 and its experience. The key concepts are underlined above. The more the document you uploaded in support of your accreditation demonstrates those four concepts, the greater the likelihood your submission will be accredited.
Moderated versus Unmoderated
There is no longer a distinction between moderated or unmoderated as far as requirements go. The six hour cap on unmoderated CLE has been permanently lifed.
Commission on Continuing Legal Education
Judicial Branch Building
1111 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50319