Monthly Archives: November 2012

CLE Typo … Grounds for Mistrial in Florida Murder Case?

As Director of Legal Education with Attorney Credits, I am constantly scouring the Internet for the latest CLE news.  Whether it’s compliance information or rule changes, I try to keep you up to date on the important CLE issues that you need to be aware of.

Yesterday’s post focused on properly reporting your CLE hours in California.  In California, attorneys report MCLE compliance via My State Bar Profile.  Many Bar Associations offer some type of online reporting option like California because online reporting is an efficient way to monitor MCLE compliance for thousands of attorneys.

Florida is another state where attorneys have the option to report MCLE compliance online … and just two days ago I wrote a post about online reporting in Florida.  When attorneys report CLE compliance in Florida, they enter the course number online through the Florida Bar website to receive FL CLE credit for the course with the Florida Bar.  Our course numbers are found on our Certificates of Completion.

The importance of properly reporting your CLE compliance cannot be understated.  Failing to properly report can lead to a myriad of negative consequences – from discipline and fines to being suspended from the practice of law.  Failing to properly report your MCLE hours can also have serious consequences for your clients and cases.

I read a story today on the ABA Journal about a mistrial request in a child murder case in Florida because the assistant state attorney improperly reported his MCLE compliance.  The attorney in question completed the proper amount of general and ethics credit as part of his CLER (Continuing Legal Education Requirement).  However, he improperly input the course number for one of the CLE courses when he was reporting his compliance online through the Florida Bar website.  Because of this typographical error, his law license was shifted to inactive status by the Florida Bar.  Once this information came to light, the defense attorney in the case requested a mistrial due to the state attorney being on inactive status.

The next time you are reporting your MCLE compliance with the state bar, make sure that you are following the proper reporting methods. As you can see from this case in Florida, improperly reporting your MCLE compliance can have dire consequences. At last report, the judge in the case had not ruled on the mistrial request – although I can’t imagine her granting the mistrial request in the murder case due to a CLE bookkeeping error.

Attorney Credits provides further CLE resources:

Prosecutor’s CLE-Entry Typo Leads to Mistrial Request in Child-Murder Case

My State Bar Profile: Reporting MCLE Compliance in California 

Online CLE Reporting in Florida

My State Bar Profile: Reporting MCLE Compliance in California

The State Bar of California recently decided to increase the number of MCLE audits. In 2012, the State Bar of California’s goal is to audit about 5% of Compliance Group 1, or roughly 3,000-4,000 lawyers.  In 2013, the State Bar’s goal is to audit 10% of Compliance Group 3 – roughly 7,000-8,000 lawyers.

The message is clear. California lawyers must fulfill and accurately document and report their MCLE requirements. No California attorney should be surprised if their compliance certificate is audited.[1] – John Streeter, President of the State Bar of California

If you are a California attorney, this is why it is very important for you to properly complete your MCLE requirement and report your compliance on time. The California State Bar requires its members to complete 25 hours of CA CLE every 3 years.[2] The State Bar has divided its members into three compliance groups with a different compliance group reporting each year. Members are assigned to a compliance group only once and always remain in that same group, even if the member subsequently changes his/her last name.

California attorneys are required to report compliance to the State Bar through My State Bar Profile to verify that they have complied with their MCLE requirement.[3] My State Bar Profile is an online feature for California attorneys to pay fees, update personal information, report MCLE compliance and more. It can also help you to calculate your personal MCLE requirements.

Lastly, the State Bar of California does not track the education hours completed by attorneys. Members are responsible for tracking CLE credit earned and reporting their compliance to the State Bar at the conclusion of each 3-year reporting period. If you are audited, you must provide the following:

  • The certificates of attendance given to you by providers;
  • Your record of self-study activities including, as appropriate, the title, provider, time spent in the activity, subject matter of the activity, and the date on which you engaged in the activity; and
  • Proof of Exempt status, if applicable.

The Certificate of Completion issued by Attorney Credits should be maintained and used to verify the completion of your MCLE requirement. The State Bar recommends that the records listed above should be maintained for one year from the time compliance is reported.

One last point – California attorneys may choose between self-study and participatory courses. It is important to remember that Calfornia attorneys may take no more than 12.5 units of self-study credits per compliance period.

Attorney Credits also offers further MCLE information and resources for California attorneys:

[1] State Bar of California MCLE Audit Alert

http://www.lacba.org/showpage.cfm?pageid=13868

[2] No more than 12.5 units of self-study credit may be used in each compliance period.

[3] Minimum Continuing Legal Education

http://mcle.calbar.ca.gov/MCLE.aspx

New Jersey Amends CLE Rules: Allows 24 Online CLE Units for Some Attorneys

Good news for attorneys who are licensed in New Jersey but live out of state – you may be able to complete all 24 NJ CLE units through online CLE courses.

The New Jersey Board on Continuing Legal Education published amendments to the New Jersey CLE Regulations on September 28, 2012. These amendments were approved by the New Jersey Supreme Court on October 23, 2012.

Here are the amendments:

BCLE Reg. 103:1(j) – Definition of “credit hour” for ethics courses

BCLE Reg. 103:1(l) – Definition of “inactive member”

BCLE Reg. 201:4 – Reciprocity and New Jersey requirements

BCLE Reg. 201:6 – Teaching CLE to non-lawyers

BCLE Reg. 201:8 – Alternative verifiable learning formats

BCLE Reg. 202: 2 – Fees charged for waiver applications

BCLE Reg. 202:3 – Fees charged for extension of time applications

BCLE Reg. 302:4 – Course announcement submission requirements for approved service providers

BCLE Reg. 302:10 – Addition of new certification specialty area

BCLE Reg. 402:1 – Noncompliance and undue hardship

BCLE Reg. 402:2 – When noncompliance late fee attaches

BCLE Reg. 402:3 – Effect of failure to comply

For our purposes, the key amendment is BCLE Regulation 201:8. According to Rule 201:8(a), if you reside and work (and are licensed) out-of-state in a jurisdiction that allows alternative verifiable learning formats you are allowed to complete all 24 New Jersey CLE hours through online CLE courses via reciprocity.

201:8. Alternative verifiable learning formats.

Lawyers who reside in, work in, and are licensed in a mandatory CLE jurisdiction that allows for 100% of CLE courses to be taken through alternative verifiable learning formats shall, through reciprocity, be able to satisfy their CLE obligation in New Jersey through 100% alternative verifiable learning formats.

For example, if you are an attorney who lives and works in New York – and has a valid New York law license – you may take all 24 NJ CLE credits through online CLE courses.  That’s because New York is a mandatory CLE jurisdiction and the New York CLE Board allows 100% of CLE courses to be taken through alternative verifiable learning formats.

These amendments to the CLE Regulations in New Jersey are effective immediately. The New Jersey Supreme Court determined that the amendment to BCLE Reg. 201:8 – allowing for 100% alternative coursework in certain circumstances – will be applied retroactively. That means that if you meet all the elements of the rule, you can complete all 24 CLE units through online CLE courses to fulfill your 2012 MCLE compliance requirement.

Here is a checklist to see if you qualify to complete all 24 CLE units online:

1. Reside outside of New Jersey.

2. Work outside of New Jersey.

3. Licensed in a state with mandatory CLE.

4. The other state that you are licensed in allows the entire MCLE requirement to be completed through online CLE courses.

Attorney Credits also provides further information about MCLE in New Jersey:

Online CLE Reporting in Florida

At Attorney Credits, part of our goal as an online CLE provider is to keep attorneys informed about pertinent CLE information.  Since each state controls the MCLE rules for its own lawyers, we have tried to keep attorneys in different states abreast of important compliance and reporting information.

Attorneys in Florida (FL) must complete 30 CLE credit hours each three-year compliance period as mandated by Florida Rule 6-10. Rule 6-10 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar sets out the MCLE requirement for Florida lawyers.  As part of the specialty credit requirement, Florida (FL) attorneys must also complete five credit hours of legal ethics, substance abuse, professionalism or mental illness awareness.

In accordance with Rule 6­10.3(b), every member shall complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved CLE every three years — five of the hours must be in the area of legal ethics, professionalism, mental illness awareness or substance abuse. The five hours are to be included in, and not in addition to, the regular 30­hour requirement.

Online CLE is one main option for Florida (FL) attorneys to complete their 30 unit CLER (Continuing Legal Education Requirement).  The Florida Bar does not limit the amount of online FL CLE courses that Florida attorneys may take each compliance period and Attorney Credits offers excellent one-click 30 CLE unit FL compliance packages for Florida attorneys.

You must complete the 30 unit CLER every three years unless you qualify for a valid exception.  You can click here to access a CLER Exemption Request Form.  Rule 6-10.3(c) lists all valid exemptions:

(1) Active military service

(2) Undue hardship

(3) Nonresident membership

(4) Full-time federal judiciary

(5) Justices of the Supreme Court of Florida and judges of district, circuit and county courts

(6) Inactive members of The Florida Bar

One question we are frequently asked by Florida attorneys concerns reporting FL CLE credits to the Florida Bar. Members of the Florida Bar are required to report CLE hours earned every three years. Each member of the Florida Bar is assigned a three-year reporting cycle, and you may find your reporting date on the mailing label of The Florida Bar News.

Once you have completed a course, the easiest method to report compliance to your CLER record is to post your MCLE hours completed online. You will need to request a password from the Florida Bar prior to using any of the online functions.[1] To report your MCLE hours online, you can go to www.floridabar.org and click on Update Member Profile in the middle of the web page. You can then click on ‘Post CLE Credits’ under the ‘Continuing Legal Education’ heading.

If you have not yet completed your MCLE hours, you will receive a courtesy reminder from the Florida Bar forty-five days prior to the end of your reporting cycle. You must update and correct the form, complete any outstanding MCLE hours and return the affidavit by your reporting date. Complete instructions appear on the reverse side of the form.

Attorney Credits also provides further information about FL CLE:

Florida Bar CLE Index

Florida FL CLE FAQ      

Florida (FL) CLE How Does It Work?        

Florida FL One-Click State Bundles      

Florida State CLE Page      

Florida CLE Requirements  


[1]  Please allow 5-7 days to receive your confidential password from the Florida Bar.

Attorney Credits Bring you CLE Your Way!

Here at Attorney Credits we are constantly utilizing the latest technology to deliver you a superior product.  We employ a talented team of designers and programmers to implement the latest technology to bring you a more convenient – and enjoyable – CLE experience.

As part of CLE Your Way, we provide our CLE courses in a number of different media formats.  This allows you to complete your CLE courses online of offline – whatever is the most convenient for you. If you are at your office, you can view our streaming video courses or listen to our streaming audio courses.  If you have a six hour plane flight to New York, you can download and take our MP3 or video download CLE courses.

Attorney Credits offers the following media options for CLE courses:

Streaming Video – Watch CLE courses on your computer or laptop. Internet connection required.

Streaming Audio – Listen to CLE courses on your computer or laptop. Internet connection required.

MP3 Download – Download a MP3 file and listen on your iPod, smart phone, tablet, computer, laptop, or MP3 player.

Video Download – Download an MP4 video file and view the course offline on your smart phone, tablet, laptop, or computer.

CD – Listen to CLE courses on any CD player; works in cars.

DVD – Watch CLE courses on any DVD player.

MP3 Player – Listen to CLE courses anywhere with a MP3 player; works in cars with included FM transmitter.

USB Drive – Transfer the video courses to any compatible device and watch offline.

Before you begin each CLE course you choose the media type that suits your needs the best.  As part of CLE Your Way you may also change your media selection after you begin a course.  You also get all your Certificates of Completion online, so there is no waiting for certificates.  And with the ‘My Certificates’ page you always have a record of all of the CLE courses that you have completed on our website.

Attorneys practicing in California also have a variety of verification methods to choose from, making the CLE experience even more painless.  California CA attorneys have all the aforementioned media formats available, and may earn self-study and participatory credit for all MCLE courses.  We utilize numerical codes or third party verification in order to assign participatory credit.

Attorney Credits offers CLE in the following states:

Alabama AL CLE

Alaska AK CLE

Arizona AZ CLE

California CA MCLE

Colorado CO CLE

Delaware DE CLE

District of Columbia DC CLE

Florida FL CLE

Illinois IL CLE

Louisiana LA CLE

Maryland MD CLE

Massachusetts MA CLE

Michigan MI CLE

Missouri MO CLE

Nevada NV CLE

New Jersey NJ CLE

New York NY CLE

North Carolina NC CLE

Ohio OH CLE

Oklahoma OK CLE

Oregon OR CLE

Pennsylvania PA CLE

South Dakota SD CLE

Tennessee TN CLE

Texas TX CLE

Washington WA CLE

Oregon MCLE Deadline is December 31st

Oregon attorneys are running out of time to complete the mandatory 45 unit MCLE requirement.[1]

The Oregon MCLE rules require all active members to complete forty-five (45) hours of approved CLE activities in each three (3) year reporting period. Of those forty-five (45) hours, five (5) must be legal ethics credits, and one (1) must be on lawyers’ child abuse reporting obligations. In alternate reporting periods, attorneys must complete at least three required credit hours of Access to Justice pursuant to Rule 5.5(b).

Oregon attorneys whose reporting period ends on December 31, 2012 should have already received an MCLE Compliance Report via email from the from the Oregon MCLE Committee. The Oregon MCLE Committee sent the MCLE Compliance Report emails by November 1. If you have not yet received the MCLE Compliance Report and you fail to submit the compliance report by the due date, you could possibly be suspended for failure to comply with the Oregon MCLE rules.[2]

When filing your Compliance Report its also important to remember the Access to Justice requirement. If your three-year MCLE reporting period ends on December 31, 2012, you are required to complete three credit hours of Access to Justice courses.[3]

If your three-year reporting period ends on 12/31/2012, your minimum requirement is 45 credits INCLUDING 5 legal ethics, 1 child abuse reporting and 3 access to justice.

If your first reporting period after reinstatement ends 12/31/2012, your minimum requirement is 15 credits INCLUDING 1 legal ethics and 1 child abuse reporting.

If your first reporting period after admission ends 12/31/2012, your minimum requirement is 15 credits INCLUDING 10 practical skills, 1 legal ethics, 1 child abuse reporting and a three-credit hour introductory access to justice course.

In addition, the professional responsibility requirement is also included in your 45 unit MCLE requirement. In addition to completing 5 credit hours of legal ethics, Oregon (OR) attorneys must also complete 1 credit hour on mandatory child abuse reporting as part of the ethics requirement.[4]

Luckily for Oregon attorneys, Attorney Credits offers a wide range of Oregon (OR) CLE (continuing legal education) courses. Further, attorneys in Oregon (OR) may complete all 45 MCLE units through online OR CLE courses. We have added a number of great online CLE courses this year, and with CLE Your Way attorneys may also complete downloadable audio and video courses for CLE credit.

At Attorney Credits, we are also keep attorneys around the country informed by providing important continuing legal education compliance information. Attorney Credits provides Oregon attorneys with further MCLE information by clicking the links below:

Oregon State Bar MCLE

Oregon Compliance Report Itemization

Information on 2012 OR MCLE Compliance Reporting

Oregon CLE FAQ      

Oregon How Does It Work?        

Oregon One-Click State Bundles    

Oregon State CLE Page    

Oregon CLE Requirements  


[1] All CLE credits must be completed by midnight on December 31, 2012. The completed compliance report is due in the Oregon MCLE office no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Reports may be delivered by fax or email.

[2] To check your address and MCLE reporting period information on the Oregon Bar website, go to www.osbar.org/secured/login.asp.

[3] Access to Justice credits were formerly called elimination of bias credits. See: Information on 2012 MCLE Compliance Reporting.

[4] Oregon Judicial Department Appellate Court Opinions

http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/RULE128.htm

“The Supreme Court Told Me So”

Ohio attorneys must complete twenty-four (24) CLE units every two years as part of the Ohio (OH) minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirement.  This is an important point to remember – especially if you serve on the county elections board.

Active attorneys and attorneys registered for corporate status must complete and report 24 hours of accredited CLE activities every two years. Fulltime, parttime, and retired judges must complete and report 40 hours of accredited CLE activities. Magistrates and acting judges must complete and report 24 hours of accredited CLE activities every two years. Judges, acting judges, and magistrates also have a Judicial College requirement.[1]

Apparently, an attorney serving on the Lucas County Board of Elections in Ohio has been fined $750 by the state Supreme Court for failing to complete his OH continuing legal education (CLE) requirement.  Ohio attorneys must complete their 24 unit MCLE requirement by December 31 and must report by January 31.

There are certain attorneys that qualify for an exemption in Ohio, but the attorney in question did not qualify for one of the exemptions:[2]

  • An attorney on full-time military duty who does not engage in the private practice of law in Ohio.
  • An attorney suffering from a severe, prolonged illness or disability that prevents participation in accredited programs and activities for the duration of the illness or disability.
  • An attorney who has demonstrated special circumstances unique to that attorney and constituting good cause to grant an exemption.
  • Upon approval by the Commission, an attorney may earn CLE hours through a substitute program of learning if the attorney has a permanent physical disability or for other compelling reason(s), has difficulty attending programs or activities.

His reason for non-compliance: the attorney said he talked to the Ohio Supreme Court over the summer and he was told he had until the end of the year to complete his continuing legal education (CLE) credits.[3]  According to the Ohio Supreme Court, however, the attorney’s required OH MCLE credits should have been finished by the end of last year (2011) and reported within a month after that.

In all, 321 Ohio (OH) attorneys were found to be non-compliant with their MCLE requirement. The Ohio Supreme Court published a full list of non-compliant attorneys last Tuesday … one more reason to get your MCLE done on time.  If you need MCLE in Ohio (OH), Attorney Credits has the MCLE that you need to remain compliant!

Attorney Credits provides more information about CLE in Ohio (OH):

Continuing Legal Education
 Supreme Court of Ohio

Ohio CLE FAQ    

Ohio How Does It Work?      

Ohio One-Click State Bundles  

Ohio State CLE Page  

Ohio CLE Requirements      


[1] Continuing Legal Education

http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/CLE/default.asp

[2] Continuing Legal Education FAQ

http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/AttySvcs/CLE/faq-atty/default.asp#2

[3] Lawyer on Lucas County elections board fined

http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2012/11/15/Lawyer-on-Lucas-County-elections-board-fined.html

MCLE for Texas Attorneys

Texas attorneys must complete at least fifteen (15) MCLE hours annually to remain compliant with the Texas MCLE Department. Three of the fifteen hours must be completed in the area of legal ethics or professionalism, and this includes CLE courses in substance abuse and elimination of bias.

It is important to note that the MCLE compliance year in Texas is a one-year period that begins on the first day of the month that you were born. The compliance period ends one year later on the last day of the month before your birth month. Also, every Texas attorney is granted an automatic grace period – the end of his or her birth month – in which to complete and report MCLE hours for that compliance year. All CLE must be completed and reported (received by the TX MCLE Director) by the last day of the birth month in order to avoid a non-compliance penalty fee. Failure to report CLE credit hours in a timely manner could result in a non-compliance penalty of $100, $200, or $300.

Luckily for Texas attorneys, there is no limit to the amount of online TX CLE courses that an attorney may complete in the annual compliance period.  Texas (TX) attorneys may complete all 15 MCLE credits hours though online CLE courses with Attorney Credits.  At Attorney Credits, we are constantly updating our course list with practical, informative courses in a number of subjects and practice areas.

We make completing CLE as easy as possible in Texas because we offer a number of different media formats, including streaming audio & video, MP3 and video download.  We also offer MP3 Player and USB Stick compliance packages as part of CLE Your Way!

Attorney Credits provides more information about CLE in Texas (TX):

Texas CLE FAQ  

Texas How Does It Work?    

Texas One-Click State Bundles

Texas State CLE Page

Texas CLE Requirements      

State Bar of Texas MCLE 

New York Attorneys Get an Extra Birthday Present: MCLE Compliance

Many states set year-end deadlines for attorneys to complete their NY CLE requirement.  In an earlier post I listed a number of states that have a December 31 MCLE compliance date – 23 states in all.[1] New York is not one of these states.

In New York, attorneys get an extra birthday present – MCLE compliance.  That’s because in New York, the MCLE compliance deadline is determined by your birth month.  New York attorneys must report MCLE compliance when their registration card is mailed – which is determined by month of birth.

A biennial registration must be filed within 30 days of the attorney’s birthday, in alternating years. Each biennial period runs for the 24 month period from birth month to birth month. See §118.1 (a) – (d)

If you are an attorney licensed in New York, when you file your registration form you must also certify your CLE compliance for the prior two-year period. If you were admitted to the New York Bar before January 1, 1982 OR in an even-numbered year, then you register in even-numbered years. If you were admitted in an odd-numbered year after 1982, then you register in odd-numbered years.[2]

If you are a New York attorney completing your NY CLE, please keep in mind that New York is a self-reporting state. While CLE sponsors are required to retain attendance records, CLE sponsors may NOT file compliance information on behalf of an individual attorney.  New York (NY) attorneys do not have to send any Certificates of Completion unless audited by the New York State Bar.  If you are audited by the New York State Bar, then you must produce evidence of your MCLE compliance.

One added feature of our online CLE at Attorney Credits is the technology that we provide you.  As long as you maintain an active account with Attorney Credits we maintain all of your Certificates of Completion under the ‘My Certificates’ page.

That way you don’t have to worry about filing and maintaining multiple certificates. We do it for you – and it’s all online under your Attorney Credits account so you don’t have to worry about digging through file cabinets trying to find your certificates.


[2] For example, if you were admitted to the New York Bar in 1986 (you registered in an even-numbered year) and your birthday is in December, then in December 2012 you will file your “2012-2013″ registration form, and you must certify your CLE compliance for your June 2010 – June 2012 biennial reporting cycle.

California CLE Courses: Ethics, Bias & Substance Abuse

If you have an impending CLE deadline in California and you need to pick up specialty courses, we have the ethics, substance abuse and elimination of bias courses that you need.  At Attorney Credits CLE, we have been hard at work this year and we have made an extra push to film numerous legal ethics, substance abuse and elimination of bias courses so that our attorney clients in California have a wide selection of specialty CLE courses to choose from.

Legal Ethics:

Substance Abuse:

Elimination of Bias:

California (CA) attorneys need to complete a minimum of 4 credit hours of legal ethics, 1 credit hour of substance abuse and 1 credit hour of elimination of bias each three year compliance period. California attorneys who are in Group 1 have until January 31 to complete the required 25 credit hours and must report compliance by February 1.
If you need further information about MCLE in California, please click the links below: