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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Surge in problem filings reported in latest MCLE audit

By Laura Ernde
Staff Writer

More lawyers had trouble with this year’s MCLE audit. But it didn’t come as a surprise.

For the first time, bar auditors focused their efforts on those who were at higher risk of not complying with Minimum Continuing Education Requirements.

Audit letters went out in August to 5,500 attorneys (or about 8.5 percent of those whose last names begin with the letters N through Z).

Of those, 2,300 were attorneys with various risk factors for doing poorly, including those who had to make up missing hours as a result of being audited in 2011 and those with a history of administrative actions or late filing of MCLE compliance. The remaining 3,200 were chosen at random from the group that reported Feb. 2.

One in four of those who received letters ran into problems proving they had taken the required 25 hours of courses in the previous three years, according to statistics from the Office of Member Records and Compliance. That rate was significantly higher than the previous two years, when it was 13.4 percent and 16 percent respectively.

However, the majority of those audited were able to bring themselves into compliance and avoid either administrative or disciplinary action.

Ultimately, 136 attorneys (2.9 percent) were placed on administrative suspension for noncompliance or failing to respond to the audit.

Auditors are still determining the number of those will be referred to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel for possible disciplinary action. Since 2011, a total of 210 attorneys have been referred to bar prosecutors. So far 37 lawyers have been disciplined – most of them for falsely reporting that they were in compliance. Three others received permission from the Supreme Court to resign with charges pending.