New fee part of upcoming MCLE audit
Audit letters will go out this month to
approximately 6,500 attorneys to ensure compliance with Minimum Continuing
Legal Education (MCLE) requirements.
This is the sixth year that the State Bar has
conducted audits that could potentially result in disciplinary action. The
sample represents about 10 percent of attorneys in MCLE group 1 (people whose last
names begin with the letters A through G) who reported compliance with MCLE
requirements this cycle.
New this year, auditees who are found to be
deficient will be assessed a $200 fee. There is also a $75 late fee for those
who don’t comply with the audit by the deadline. The Board of Trustees adjusted
the fee after reviewing other states’ fees for similar violations and to
demonstrate the importance of complying with the regulations, said Chief
Operating Officer Leah Wilson.
Attorneys will be asked to provide certificates
of course completion or prove they are statutorily exempt by Aug. 22. The State
Bar requires active attorneys to take 25 hours of continuing education courses
every three years. Lawyers must keep their documentation for at least a year
after their compliance report is due.
The audit will include a higher proportion of
those with risk factors for doing poorly on the audit, such as a history of
administrative actions or late filing of MCLE compliance reports. The remaining
will be chosen at random from attorneys whose last names begin with the letters
A through G.
Those who do not respond to the audit or do not
bring themselves into compliance by Oct. 31 will be administratively suspended
on Nov. 1. In addition, those who appear to have falsely declared they were
compliant may be referred to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel for possible
disciplinary action. For more information about MCLE requirements and
reporting, visit the State Bar’s MCLE web page.