California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - November 2001
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News / News Briefs
Applicants sought to oversee bar's diversion program
Let's have another cup of - legal advice
Foundation leads students to capital
Six honored for professional service
Warwick, six others named to California Judicial Council
Several thousand lawyers suspended for failing to pay dues, certify MCLE
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Trials Digest
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From the President - Remembering the fallen
The rule of law is our strongest weapon
Pro bono work is lawyers' duty
Letters to the Editor
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Law Practice - Success: The top eight requirements
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
Planning for education expenses
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Ethics Byte - Lawyers move on in usual way despite disaster
Former city councilman spent his son's settlement
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
Several thousand lawyers suspended for failing to pay dues, certify MCLE
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The State Bar has suspended from practice almost 1,400 attorneys who did not complete their continuing education requirements and more than 2,000 lawyers who did not pay their dues. Both numbers far exceed the norm.

In formal terms, the affected lawyers were placed on "not entitled" status, but whatever the terminology, it means they can't practice law as of Sept. 1.

State Bar Executive Director Judy Johnson said the numbers in both categories were high this year because the bar had not sought suspension for either group in recent years due to the bar's fiscal crisis and member confusion over what was required.

Those who did not comply with MCLE requirements - 1,393 - had years to do so. The compliance period for Group 1 (last names A-G) totaled six years and Group 2 (last names H-M) had seven years to finish their hours.

The deadlines had been extended while a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of MCLE requirements was pending before the Supreme Court. The high court upheld the program at about the same time Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation which reduced the number of hours required over a three-year period from 36 to 25.

The board of governors extended the deadline for Group 2 from 1997 to 2000, and then gave them another year as well. The deadline for Group 1 was extended from 1998 to 2001. Those who had not met the original 36-hour requirement had to finish 61 hours (36 hours plus 25) of continuing education by the new deadline; those who had met the first deadline had to complete 25 hours.

In most years, about 300 lawyers are placed on not-entitled status for non-compliance.

The bar sent numerous letters before the Feb. 1 deadlines reminding attorneys of the requirement. When the deadline passed, the bar sent additional letters to each lawyer who was late, and in the last month sent a certified letter and tried to e-mail or phone them as well.

"This is really unfortunate because we were so proactive," said Fran Bassios, special assistant to the executive director, who oversees the MCLE program.

In order to resume active status, an attorney who is not entitled for MCLE non-compliance must complete the required hours, provide the compliance card and documentation of compliance, and pay penalties and late fees - $275 in most cases.

In addition to MCLE non-compliance, 2,057 California lawyers were suspended for not paying their bar dues. That compares to about 800 in most years.

Bar officials suspect there is overlap in the lists of roughly 1,000 names, but have not analyzed the data to determine precise numbers.

For information, call the office of certification at 415/538-2100.