Keep Calm and Lawyer On… A CLE Director’s Advice if You Face a California MCLE Audit

 

screen-capture-1Monday, July 11, was an extremely busy day for our company, Attorney Credits. The phone started ringing around 8:00 a.m. when we opened up and it was busy until we shut down around 5:00 p.m. Why would it be so busy in the middle of July when the California MCLE deadline isn’t until February???

It was so busy because the State Bar of California sent out over 6,000 MCLE audit letters to California attorneys the week of July 4th. Once those audit letters hit attorney mailboxes, we started getting calls from frantic attorneys all over the state calling to make sure they completed the correct amount of CLE hours and asking how to access CLE certificates.

As long as you completed all your required CA CLE, there is nothing to worry about. Simply follow the instructions provided by the Cal Bar on how to complete the necessary steps for the audit. Mainly, this consists of inputting all your credit hours on a special webpage on the Cal Bar website and then emailing all your certificates of attendance in one PDF document.

That’s right, the California MCLE audit is real. I have personal experience with the MCLE audit because I was audited by he State Bar of California three years ago.

If you were audited and you did not complete your California MCLE requirement, I have one piece of advice for you – the cover up is worse than the crime. Please do NOT lie to the Cal Bar. Simply cure your CA CLE deficiency, pay any penalties or fines and continue to practice law. A number of attorneys have been disbarred on moral turpitude grounds because they didn’t complete the required MCLE, lied to the Cal Bar, then tried to forge or backdate certificates.

One attorney was even disbarred because she reported that she completed her MCLE requirement in December, then when she was audited all her certificates had January dates. Granted, this attorney had a history of disciplinary problems with the State Bar of California. However, this shows how serious the Cal Bar is about MCLE compliance and how serious you should take your MCLE requirement.

If this is not your CA CLE compliance cycle or you did not get audited this time around, please make sure to properly complete your MCLE requirement in the future. You have worked too hard to get where you are to jeopardize your legal career over a few hours of continuing education. For more information about California MCLE requirements please click here: CA CLE.

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IL CLE: Help… I Missed My June 30 Deadline!!

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Illinois attorneys must complete 30 credit hours every 2 years, including 6 hours of professional responsibility. Attorneys in Illinois with the last names A-M should have completed the required IL MCLE by June 30. Don’t panic if you missed the Illinois CLE deadline.

If you did not complete the required IL CLE your best option is to report non-compliance to the Illinois MCLE Board by July 31 and cure your CLE deficiency by September 30 and pay any necessary fines or penalties.

If you did not complete the IL MCLE requirement you should report “not complied” before July 31 in order to receive an extension until September 30 to complete the required CLE. You will incur a $100 fee, however, you will avoid paying the $150 late fee for not reporting by July 31. For more information about Illinois CLE please click here: IL CLE.

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NY CLE: Ethics and Professionalism

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“Experienced” New York attorneys must complete a minimum of 24 New York CLE credit hours each two-year NY CLE reporting cycle.[1]  At least 4 of these NY CLE credit hours must be in the Ethics and Professionalism category and the remaining credit hours may be in any category of credit – Areas of Professional Practice, Skills or Law Practice Management.

NY CLE Ethics & Professionalism may include:[2]

  • The norms relating to lawyers’ professional obligations to clients
  • The norms relating to lawyers’ professional relations with prospective clients
  • The sources of lawyers’ professional obligation
  • Recognition and resolution of ethical dilemmas
  • Substance abuse control
  • Professional values

In New York, Ethics and Professionalism is a broad category and encompasses many different CLE topics – from professional values to substance abuse control. All 4 required New York Ethics & Professionalism credit hours may be completed through online and downloadable CLE courses. For more information about CLE in New York please click the following link: NY CLE.

[1] Experienced attorneys have been admitted to the New York Bar for more than 2 years.

[2] New York MCLE Rule §1500.2 Definitions

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CA CLE: Keep Calm if You Face a California MCLE Audit

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Monday, July 11, was an extremely busy day. The phone started ringing around 8:00 a.m. and it was busy until we finished up around 5:00 p.m. Why would it be so busy in the middle of July when many states don’t have deadlines until the end of the year???

It was so busy because the State Bar of California sent out over 6,000 MCLE audit letters to California attorneys the week of July 4th. Once those audit letters hit mailboxes, we were getting calls from frantic attorneys all over the state calling us to make sure they completed the correct amount of total and specialty hours.

That’s right, the audit is real. If you properly completed your California MCLE requirement, congratulations. You just have need to spend a few hours uploading CLE information and certificates on the Cal Bar website.

If you were audited and you did not complete the MCLE requirement, I have one piece of advice for you – the cover up is worse than the crime. Whatever you do, do NOT lie to the Cal Bar. Simply cure your CLE deficiency, pay any penalties or fines and continue to practice law in California. A number of attorneys have been disbarred on moral turpitude grounds because they didn’t complete the required MCLE and then were dishonest with the Cal Bar.

If this is not your California MCLE compliance cycle or you did not get audited this time around, please make sure to take your CA CLE requirement seriously. You would be amazed at how many attorneys don’t complete all 25 credit hours, forget to take at least 12.5 hours for participatory credit or don’t complete 4 ethics, 1 bias and 1 competence issues.

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FL CLE: Can I Carry CLE Hours Forward to the Next Compliance Period?

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Members of the Florida Bar are subject to the CLER. Florida attorneys must complete and report 30 total FL CLE credit hours every three-year reporting cycle to fulfill the CLER.[1] This compliance and reporting requirement is called the Continuing Legal Education Requirement (CLER) in Florida.

Florida does NOT allow CLER credit hours to be carried over from one compliance period to the next.

But does Florida allow you to carry over CLE hours from one compliance to the next? No, Florida does NOT allow CLE credit hours to be carried over from one compliance period to the next. To access more information about Florida CLE please click the following link: FL CLE.

[1] Your FL CLE reporting cycle is chosen randomly by a computer program.

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CLE on Bankruptcy, Money Laundering & Terrorism

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Spearheaded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), leaders and governments have sought to monitor and suppress money laundering and terrorism financing around the globe. This became even more pressing here at home after the 9/11 terror attacks. Due to our legal system and the use of anonymous entities like LLCs, the United States is an easy place to hide money and terrorists have begun using our financial and legal systems to launder dirty money and clandestinely move it around the world to finance terrorist and other illegal operations. Unfortunately for attorneys, there is a very fine line between assisting clients and crossing into criminal activity.

Dirty money gets produced by organized crime and other criminals though drug trafficking, prostitution, tax evasion, corruption, financial crime and many other sources.

Peter W. Bowie, the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California, has seen these matters develop first hand from his view from the bench. In this CLE course, Judge Bowie explores the evolving link between bankruptcy, money laundering & terrorist financing and the attorney’s duty to investigate. The main topics addressed by Judge Bowie include money laundering around the globe, the use of anonymous entities to hide money and the attorneys increased duty to investigate. To access this course please click here: Bankruptcy, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.

Additional topics presented in this CLE course:

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering’s 40 recommendations
  • The 2002 ABA Task Force
  • ABA Formal Opinion 463
  • Risk based client due diligence
  • How individuals hide money from creditors
  • The anonymous purchase of numerous high end American properties
    The 2016 GlobalWitness.org report
  • The Panama Papers
  • Confidentiality
  • Attorney-client privilege
  • Rule 11
  • Recent case law regarding attorney investigations

Peter W. Bowie, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California, spent 27 years on the bench. He leverages his vast experience in the courtroom to conduct mediation settlement conferences and contribute to the firm’s mediation practice. A skilled mediator, Judge Bowie has successfully resolved several vigorously contested, large fee application disputes, and other important cases. Before joining the bench, he served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California for 14 years, the last six as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, overseeing operations of the criminal and civil divisions. Earlier in his career, he served as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he was hired through the Department’s prestigious Honors Program.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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New CLE Course on Drones & Liability

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Very soon there will be as many drones in the sky as flies…. that may be a stretch, but you get the picture of how popular drones have become. Every year millions of drones are bought used for everything from conducting surveillance and crop science to filming weddings, bar mitzvahs and other celebrations. But what happens when the drone your 12 year-old son is flying loses contact with the controller causing it to crash into a local restaurant that then catches fire and is forced to shut down for 1 week?

Drones also have great potential to lead to liability for manufacturers, retailers, pilots… and parents!

In this CLE course attorneys Eric Hanscom and Ed Burns provide an excellent discussion of the rise of drones and emerging areas of potential liability. The main points of discussion include the many uses of drones, drone regulation, drone liability and best practices for legal claims. To access the course please click here: Keep Calm and Drone On: Regulation and Liability.

Additional topics addressed in this CLE course:

  • Mechanics of UAVs
  • FAA regulation
  • Commercial vs. hobbyist use
  • The 333 exemption
  • Local ordinances
  • Flying on federal land
  • State vs. federal law
  • Liability for those in the chain of commerce
  • Negligence
  • Drones & privacy rights
  • Commercial uses for drones
  • Best practices if you are faced with a drone claim

Before beginning his own practice Eric Hanscom utilized his science background and law degree to gain experience in multiple facets of patent, trademark and copyright law and the application of those property rights. He has been actively involved in overseeing litigation, contract negotiation and customs issues in the US, Asia, Europe, South American and Australia over matters ranging from patent and trademark infringement to breach of contract. Edward W. Burns has extensive litigation experience in State and Federal Court and assists clients in protecting corporate intellectual property, including infringement litigation. Mr. Burns also practices in the preparation, review and filing of corporate documents and filings, employment contracts, independent contractor agreements, and employee handbooks, business contracts, supply and production agreements, sponsorship agreements and leases.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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TX CLE: How Do I Self-Report My TX CLE Hours?

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Texas attorneys that have been licensed for two years or more must complete fifteen (15) TX CLE credit hours each annual compliance period.[1] The Texas MCLE compliance year is a one-year period that begins on the first day of the month you were born. The compliance year ends one year later on the last day of the month that precedes the month of your birth.

Texas MCLE

Every Texas attorney must complete a minimum of 15 hours of accredited CLE during each MCLE compliance year.

As an accredited sponsor of CLE in Texas, Attorney Credits does report your all your completed TX CLE courses to the State Bar of Texas. We send completed lists to the State Bar of Texas every Monday. However, Texas is still a self-reporting MCLE state. Because Texas attorneys are ultimately responsible for reporting completion of their continuing education requirement to the State Bar of Texas, you must verify the receipt of your completed courses by the State Bar of Texas.

Texas: Self Report MCLE

Although CLE providers do report  your completed CLE courses, it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure your mandatory CLE hours are accurately and timely reported with the State Bar of Texas MCLE Department.

Please note that failure to timely report your TX CLE credit hours could result in a non-compliance penalty of $100, $200, or $300. Attorney Credits also offers helpful information about continuing legal education (CLE) for attorneys licensed to practice in Texas. Please click this link to access more information about CLE in Texas: TX CLE.

[1] Including three (3) credit hours of Legal Ethics or Professionalism.

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IL CLE: What if I Did Not Complete my CLE by June 30?

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Illinois attorneys with the last names A-M should have completed 30 credit hours of IL CLE by June 30. However, do not fret if you did not complete the required IL MCLE.

If your last name begins with A-M and you did not complete the required 30 IL CLE hours by June 30 you have until September 30 to cure your deficiency.

If you did not complete the required IL MCLE you should report “not complied” now in order to receive an extension until September 30 to complete the required CLE. You will still incur a $100 fee, but you will avoid paying the $150 late fee for not reporting by July 31. For more information about Illinois CLE please click here: IL CLE.

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CLE Course on Conducting a Patent Prior Art Search

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Prior art research should be concluded early on in the patent process before time, money and resources are expended on the construction of the patent and the application. Prior art research will identify those patent publications that may prevent the innovation in question from being patented and can provide a type of road map in the early stages of development that can assist in providing work arounds of the prior art that will allow the innovation to be patented or used freely in the market.

For patent prosecution, patent prior art research is an essential requirement and one of the critical first steps in the prosecution process.

In this CLE course, Intellectual Property attorneys Alan Kendrick and Eric Hanscom provide a practical discussion about the best practices when conducing a patent prior art search. Alan and Eric mainly address the main goals, types & scope of prior art research and patent publication prior art research. To access this course please click here: An Introduction to Patent Prior Art Research.

Additional topics covered in this CLE course:

  • Patent prosecution
  • Freedom to operate
  • FTO Research
  • State of the art research
  • Patentability search
  • Invalidity research
  • Patent landscape research
  • Whitespace analysis
  • Non-patent publication research
  • Discussions with the inventor
  • Strategy development
  • Qualifying terms
  • Searching by number/date ranges
  • Searching by applicant/assignee name or by inventor name
  • Searching by specific data fields
  • Using Patbase

Before beginning his own practice Eric Hanscom utilized his science background and law degree to gain experience in multiple facets of patent, trademark and copyright law and the application of those property rights. He has been actively involved in overseeing litigation, contract negotiation and customs issues in the US, Asia, Europe, South American and Australia over matters ranging from patent and trademark infringement to breach of contract. Alan Kendrick has been an attorney since 1998 and his practice focuses on intellectual property matters including patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and unfair competition. He has several years of experience providing patentability and invalidity research in a wide variety of disciplines including aerospace, mechanical, industrial, energy, medical, materials, food technology and the automotive arts.

This CLE course is offered in the following states:

  • Alaska (AK)
  • Arizona (AZ)
  • California (CA)
  • Connecticut (CT)
  • District of Columbia (DC)
  • Illinois (IL)
  • Maryland (MD)
  • Massachusetts (MA)
  • Michigan (MI)
  • Missouri (MO)
  • New Hampshire (NH)
  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • Pennsylvania (PA)
  • South Dakota (SD)

Attorney Credits offers CLE for attorneys in California and around the country. For more information about CLE in California please click the following link: CA CLE.

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