North Carolina Judicial College

Continuing Education Requirements

Judges. All North Carolina judges and justices are subject to the Rules of Continuing Judicial Education adopted by the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The rules are reproduced on side two of form AOC-A-161. The following summarizes the principal requirements of the rules, supplemented with some additional pertinent information.

Initial training. Superior court and district court judges must attend an orientation course for new judges within one year of appointment or election. The School of Government, in conjunction with the Administrative Office of the Courts, provides such courses as needed. There is no similar requirement for judges and justices in the appellate division.

Continuing education. Judges and justices must complete 30 hours of education every two years, with at least 15 of those hours accruing in “continuing judicial education courses designed especially for judges and attended exclusively or primarily by judges.” The School of Government is an approved provider of continuing judicial education, and Judicial College courses are normally approved to count towards the 15- and 30-hour requirements.

North Carolina judges and justices are exempt from the State Bar’s CLE requirement under 27 N.C.A.C. 01D.1517(c).

Specialty designations and certifications. District court judges may receive juvenile certification by completing four required Judicial College courses and presiding over a specified number of juvenile hearings. More information about the certification program is available here.

For district court judges who have been designated as Family Court Judges, Rule II.C of the Rules of Continuing Judicial Education requires that at least 24 of the 30 hours must be instruction designed especially for family court. This requirement was adopted in 2004, as noted here, and so does not appear on the version of the rules on form AOC-A-161, which was last revised in 2002.


Initial training. Within six months of taking the oath of office, a magistrate must complete “a course of basic training of at least 40 hours in the civil and criminal duties of a magistrate.” G.S. 7A-177. The School of Government offers Basic School for Magistrates twice each year to allow new magistrates to satisfy this requirement.

Continuing education. Starting in 2022, G.S. 7A-177 requires that magistrates “annually and satisfactorily complete” at least 12 hours of training in civil and criminal duties of a magistrate. Before 2022, the Conference of Chief District Court Judges required that each magistrate complete at least 12 hours of continuing education every two years.

G.S. 7A-177(b1) requires that annual training include, but not be limited to, the following subjects:

(1) setting conditions of pretrial release,

(2) impaired driving laws,

(3) issuing criminal processes,

(4) issuing search warrants,

(5) technology, and

(6) orders of protection.

Both the NCAOC and School of Government recognize that the six required topics listed in G.S. 7A-177(b1) are only part of the expertise magistrates need to do their jobs well. And we recognize that civil topics are absent from that list altogether.

NCAOC created a policy effective January 1, 2022, to implement the statutory requirement. Here is a version of that policy current as of February 2022. Contact the NCAOC for further details. NCAOC maintains magistrate continuing education records.

The NCAOC offers online training to meet all statutory continuing education requirements through its online Learning Center. The SOG provides some of the training in the Learning Center. Beyond the Learning Center, the SOG works with the NCAOC to offer continuing education for magistrates. The SOG training calendar for magistrates is here.

CLE requirement for attorney magistrates. As of August 2022, the NC State Bar has confirmed that attorney Magistrates who meet the annual NCAOC Magistrates Continuing Education Credit requirements are exempt from NC State Bar attorney CLE requirements.


Lack of training mandate. There is no statute or rule that prescribes specific training for elected clerks or for assistant or deputy clerks.

CLE requirement for attorney clerks. Attorney clerks must satisfy the State Bar's CLE requirement. Judicial College courses for clerks are normally approved for CLE credit.