STATE BAR LAUNCHES EXPANDED MCLE AUDIT

Contact: Laura Ernde  415-538-2028  laura.ernde@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco (July 18, 2012) – Continuing its effort to ensure compliance with Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements, the State Bar of California is asking 2,600 attorneys to provide certificates of course completion or prove they are exempt.

The State Bar requires active attorneys, except those statutorily exempt, to take 25 hours of continuing education courses every three years, including four hours of legal ethics and an hour each of elimination of bias and detection and prevention of substance abuse or mental illness. Lawyers must keep documentation for at least a year after their compliance is due.

Audit letters were sent Tuesday to 2,600 attorneys, directing them to log course completion information online. They are being asked to submit actual certificates of attendance, either by mail or fax. About 500 lawyers were chosen for the audit after the State Bar identified potential problems with either their eligibility for submitting reduced hours or being exempt from MCLE requirements. The rest were chosen at random from attorneys whose last names begin with the letters H through M. The sample represents about 5 percent of attorneys whose MCLE requirements were due Feb. 1, 2012.

The State Bar expanded its audit from last year, when the bar closely examined the documentation provided by a randomly chosen group of 635 lawyers. That audit, which represented 1 percent of the attorneys whose MCLE requirements were due last year, revealed that 98 attorneys – or 15 percent – were not in compliance.

The 2011 audit resulted in 27 attorneys being referred to the Office of Chief Trial Counsel for possible disciplinary action because they falsely reported they were in compliance.

The bar plans to expand the audit next year to 10 percent of attorneys whose MCLE requirements are due.

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

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The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By July 2012, membership reached 238,000.