Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on Linked In Share this by Email
MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Get ready to verify your MCLE compliance

By Laura Ernde
Staff Writer

Manuel Jimenez was surprised and a little nervous when he got a notice that he was being audited for Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) compliance in 2012.

“I keep pretty good records, but it still scared the heck out of me,” said Jimenez, who happens to be a senior attorney in the State Bar’s own Office of Chief Trial Counsel. “I knew I had all the credits, but now somebody was going to go through my documents to make sure.”

About 5,200 other attorneys may face similar feelings next week when a new round of audit letters goes out.

This is the fifth 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 2 (last names begin with the letters H through M) who reported compliance with MCLE requirements this cycle.

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 their documentation for at least a year after their compliance is due.

Jimenez said he wasted no time in verifying his compliance by providing certificates of course completion to the audit team, so he could rest easy.

This year’s audit has an additional directive: It will target lawyers who had to make up missing hours as a result of being audited in 2012. 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 2,000 or so will be chosen at random from attorneys whose last names begin with the letters H through M.

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. 30 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.

As of mid-June, 60 attorneys had been disciplined in connection with previous MCLE audits, and three had resigned with charges pending.

For more information about MCLE requirements and reporting, visit the State Bar’s MCLE web page.