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Continuing legal education is just one of those facts of life for lawyers. However, some lawyers know how to really work those pesky credit requirements to their own personal advantage. It's no secret, some CLE conferences blatantly appeal to special interests or activities, for example, the annual "CLE and Ski" in January.
After all, CLE is a legitimate expense related to maintaining one's professional license. As such, there's a good chance your CLE costs will be tax deductible. You may be wondering: Can I take a tax-deductible CLE summer vacation?
Deduct Legitimate Expenses Only
So you found that perfect CLE conference on the beach, or across the country, or in Hawaii, but can you really turn your conference into a tax-deductible family vacation?
Assuming you bring your family, you should still be able to take some deductions. While the cost of the actual conference, your travel expenses to and from, and maybe even some dinners with colleagues, may be deductible as business or licensing expenses, you and your spouse's and children's vacation expenses aren't likely to qualify.
So, for example, the waterpark you went to with your kids on the day you played hookie from the conference, while priceless, won't be deductible. Nevertheless, being able to deduct your own airfare, and at least a part of the hotel costs, along with the cost of the CLE courses, still seems like an economical way to get a vacation in.
Is It Really Worth It?
This depends on who you ask. Some attorneys will only do CLEs if they are part of a vacation-like conference. Some lawyers need their vacations to truly get in some serious R and R, and can't be bothered with CLEs during that coveted time. There are annual lawyer association meetings that offer significant amounts of CLE credits in just about every city or state you actually want to visit anyway, like San Francisco, New Orleans, Vail, New York, Las Vegas, D.C., and, of course, Hawaii.
On the flipside, CLE credits are easy to get nowadays, particularly as states are now starting to allow credits to be completed via online courses, and there are even many ways to earn CLE credits without spending a dime. Given all that, getting a few bucks back on your taxes for sitting through some CLEs on your vacations just may not be worth it if you really need some time to unplug. You might just be better off sitting through a timeshare presentation.