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Fee statements mailed this month; Feb. 1 deadline

State Bar fee statements for 2007 will be mailed this month to all California attorneys, and all fees must be paid online or postmarked by the statutory due date of Feb. 1.

Beginning on Feb. 2, late payments will be assessed a $100 late fee for active attorneys and $30 for inactive members. Members of Group 1 (last names beginning with letters A-G) also must submit their MCLE compliance cards online or make sure they are postmarked by Feb. 1. Group 1 members who miss that compliance date will be assessed a $75 late compliance fee beginning on Feb. 2.

To help lawyers pay on time, the bar also is waiving all bank fees for online payments. Last year, the charge to members was $5, with the bar picking up the rest of the bank fee. This year, there is no fee to members for paying online and the bar will pick up all of the bank charge.

Historically, more than 70 percent of the bar’s members — last year, 140,000 — have paid their fees on time by the statutory dues deadline of Feb. 1. The board previously granted a 45-day extension for the 65,000 attorneys who paid late; however, because of the extensive cost to the bar to collect dues from the remaining 30 percent — many of whom repeatedly pay late, and in many cases at the very last minute before suspension by the Supreme Court — the bar’s board of governors voted this past summer to eliminate the extension.

“This is a good business decision,” said Sheldon Sloan, the bar’s new president, who noted that members receive their fee statements 75 days before the statutory deadline for payment and then are granted a minimum six to seven months beyond that before a recommendation for suspension goes to the Supreme Court. Added board member James Penrod of San Francisco: “The members who pay on time should not have to pay the extra costs for getting the rest of the members to pay their dues.”

In the past, third and fourth mailings also were subsequently sent to delinquent dues payers, with a statutory “Final Delinquent Notice” included in the fourth mailing. The board must wait 60 days following the final mailing before it can act to have the Supreme Court administratively suspend the attorneys who haven’t paid. That means lawyers in arrears have not been placed on administrative suspension until mid-September.

A year ago, the bar had to spend an additional $175,000 to print and mail the second, third and final delinquent notices to members who did not pay their dues. Many of the same members wait every year to pay until just before they are suspended. “Members who take responsibility and follow the rules should not be penalized for those who do not,” said Penrod.

This year, that suspension did not take place until Sept. 15. By eliminating the extension and enforcing the statutory deadline, the board will be able to forward the names of attorneys who do not pay their dues to the Supreme Court earlier.

“Members who do not pay their dues should not be allowed to practice law for more than eight months without paying their annual fee,” said Sloan. “The members who pay should not be happy that we allow that.”

In addition to enforcing the statutory deadline, the bar also will assess every lawyer who ultimately is suspended for non-payment of fees a $100 reinstatement fee before being allowed to practice law again. Those suspended for failure to comply with MCLE requirements will have to pay a $200 reinstatement fee.

The fee statement will be mailed Nov. 15. The 2007 fee for active lawyers is $400; for inactive lawyers, the annual fee is $125. Attorneys who change their status from active to inactive must file the change form with the bar and pay their dues by Feb. 1 to be eligible for the inactive fee for 2007. The annual fee is waived for inactive lawyers 70 years or older.

Lawyers can deduct $5 for the bar’s lobbying activities and $5 for elimination of bias programs. Members eligible to scale dues and who pay by Feb. 1 are entitled to a 25 percent reduction in their fees.

The fee statement also will offer the option of joining one or more of the bar’s sections as well as making donations to the Foundation of the State Bar, the Conference of Dele-gates of California Bar Associations and the California Supreme Court Historical Society.

Lawyers in Compliance Group 1 (last names A-G) must complete 25 hours of continuing education. Up to half the hours may be self-study through an approved provider and the remainder must be participatory. The requirements include four hours of ethics instruction, one hour of elimination of bias and an hour of detection/prevention of substance abuse. California Bar Journal self-study tests are available at the bar’s Web site,

Complete information about MCLE requirements is available at the Web site by clicking on MCLE in the right-hand menu.

Compliance may be submitted electronically through the My State Bar Profile feature on the bar’s Web site.

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