Back in February of this year, One Legal attended an MCLE rule amendment meeting at the California State Bar. As an MCLE provider, it is essential that we comply with the changing rules. As you may remember, we reported that the State Bar would be strictly enforcing compliance rules and that attorneys should be expecting an increase in MCLE audits.
True to their word, the California State Bar sent audit letters to 5,500 attorneys on July 7. For the last four years, the State Bar has conducted audits that could potentially result in disciplinary action. This year’s audit is the largest to date.
Those attorneys who received an audit letter have been asked to either provide MCLE certificates of completion or prove they are statutorily exempt by Aug. 21. The State Bar currently requires active attorneys to take 25 hours of continuing education courses every three years. Documentation must be kept for at least a year after their compliance is due.
This year’s audit included lawyers who were required to make up missing hours as a result of being audited in 2011. The audit also included 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 number were chosen at random from attorneys whose last names begin with the letters N through Z.
“We’re using the data we have from previous audits to focus our regulatory efforts on lawyers who are at higher risk of noncompliance,” State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez said. “By doing so we can fulfill our public protection mission without burdening the vast majority of lawyers who are honest and doing the right thing.”
The audit contains two parameters, administrative and disciplinary. If an attorney is audited and does not respond accordingly by October 31, he or she will be suspended on November 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.
To date, 24 attorneys have been disciplined as a result of the MCLE audits and one has resigned with charges pending. Nine discipline cases are currently awaiting approval by the California Supreme Court and a number of other cases are still pending in State Bar Court.
If you are interested in attending one of our free, MCLE accredited courses, visit our Training page!