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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

5,500 attorneys expected to go through MCLE audit

By Laura Ernde
Staff Writer

The State Bar will send audit letters to 5,500 attorneys on July 7 to ensure compliance with Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements.

This is the fourth year that the State Bar has conducted audits that could potentially result in disciplinary action. It’s also the largest audit group to date. The sample represents about 8.5 percent of attorneys whose last names begin with the letters N through Z, whose MCLE compliance was due Feb. 1.

Attorneys will be asked to provide certificates of course completion or prove they are statutorily exempt by Aug. 21. The State Bar requires active attorneys to take 25 hours of continuing education courses every three years. Lawyers must keep documentation for at least a year after their compliance is due.

The audit will include lawyers who had to make up missing hours as a result of being audited in 2011. In addition, it will include a higher proportion of those with other risk factors for doing poorly on the audit, such as a history of administrative actions or late filing of MCLE compliance. The remaining 3,200 or so will be chosen at random from attorneys whose last names begin with the letters N through Z.

“We’re using the data we have from previous audits to focus our regulatory efforts on lawyers who are at higher risk of noncompliance,” State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez said. “By doing so we can fulfill our public protection mission without burdening the vast majority of lawyers who are honest and doing the right thing.”

There are two components to the audit, administrative and disciplinary. 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 will be referred to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel for possible disciplinary action.

To date, 24 attorneys have been disciplined in connection with the MCLE audits and one has resigned with charges pending. Nine discipline cases are currently awaiting approval by the California Supreme Court and a number of other cases are still pending in State Bar Court.

For more information about MCLE requirements and reporting, visit the State Bar’s MCLE web page. You can also read the FAQs about what to do in case you’re contacted for an MCLE audit.