|procrastinators is a 61-hour deficit.
"In terms of good member
relations, extending the time (to comply) is right philosophically," said former
board president Raymond C. Marsh-all.
In the wake of new legislation and a Supreme Court decision upholding the bar's minimum
continuing legal education (MCLE) program, the board decided lawyers must complete the 36
hours required under the old program and old deadlines, plus 25 more hours required by the
fee bill signed by Gov. Davis in September.
Although it had advised attorneys to continue to fulfill MCLE requirements when the
program was ruled unconstitutional in 1997, the board also suspended enforcement of the
program pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.
About 50,000 lawyers took advantage of the program's limbo. Some 19,000 members of
group 1 (last names A-G) did not meet their Jan. 31, 1998, deadline, and 30,000 members of
group 3 (last names N-Z) missed the Jan. 31, 1999, deadline. More than 1,000 members of
group 2 (last names H-M) who missed the 1997 deadline, which was before the Warden v.
State Bar decision was handed down, still have not complied.
The Supreme Court upheld the program this past August. Days later, Gov. Davis signed
the fee bill, which reduces the number of required hours from 36 to 25 over a three-year
period and eliminates the exemption for retired judges.
Under the legislation, the bar must propose an amendment to the MCLE rule and request
the Supreme Court to adopt the change. Such a proposal likely will go to the court early
The new requirements are based on an assumption the court will approve the changes
required by the legislation.
Under the policy, members of compliance groups 1 and 2 who should have but did not
complete 36 hours by Jan. 31, 1998, and Jan. 31, 1997, respectively, now have until Jan.
31, 2001, to do both the 36 hours plus 25 more, for a total of 61 hours.
Members of those groups who did comply by the 1997 and 1998 deadlines must complete 25
hours by Jan. 31, 2001.
Lawyers in group 3 who did not finish 36 hours by Jan. 31, 1999, must complete 61 hours
by Jan. 31, 2002. Those who are in compliance must do 25 hours by that date.
Subsequent compliance deadlines for 25 hours are: Group 1, Jan. 31, 2004; Group 2, Jan.
31, 2003; and Group 3, Jan. 31, 2005.
In a related action, the board rejected a staff recommendation to refund a $75 penalty
assessed against members of group 2 who had not met the 1997 compliance deadline. Instead,
the 175 lawyers in group 2 who did not pay the penalty will be rebilled.