Vol. 78, No. 10, October
Legal News & Trends
Avoid seven common errors in
reporting CLE credits
Attorneys admitted to practice in odd-numbered years should receive
the 2004 - 05 CLE Form 1, the continuing legal education reporting form,
in mid-October. All active Wisconsin-licensed attorneys are required by
SCR 31.03 to file a CLE Form 1 with the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE)
biennially. The filing deadline is Dec. 31. Attorneys admitted to
practice in 2005 do not need to report until 2007.
"It seems the most difficult aspects of earning CLE credits can be
filling out CLE Form 1 accurately and submitting it early enough for us
to catch a deficiency before it's too late to avoid the consequences,"
says Gene R. Rankin, BBE director. "Consequences can include a fine or
even license suspension," says Rankin, who urges attorneys to file early
and to keep good records.
"Attorneys who wait until the last minute to file can suddenly find
they are short of credits, and oftentimes there isn't enough time to
earn those credits before the deadline. Another major problem is not
keeping accurate records, which complicates filling out the form."
Rankin outlines the seven most common CLE reporting form errors and
offers ideas to make the process less complicated.
1. Filing late. The earlier you file, the earlier
your form is audited, and the more likely deficiencies will be detected
while there is still time to make up missing credits. Filing late also
can land your form in a huge pile of late-filers, which can result in a
late audit and late fees if there are deficiencies.
2. Form filled out by someone else. Take personal
responsibility. Fill out the form yourself.
3. Inaccurate information. Reporting the accurate
date, title, and sponsor is critical. Many sponsors offer dozens of
courses, and it is impossible for BBE staff to determine which course is
being reported if the information is incomplete or inaccurate.
"When you take a CLE course, write down the necessary information,
file the course brochure and payment receipt in a folder, and record the
course on your calendar," says Rankin. "When the CLE Form 1 arrives, the
necessary information is easy to get to, and you are ready to go."
Did you know you can track your CLE credits on WisBar?
State Bar members can track their CLE credits on the State
Bar's Web site. The WisBar My CLE Tracker feature automatically
tracks credits earned through State Bar of Wisconsin CLE programs. In
addition, you can enter CLE credits earned from other providers. Visit
www.wisbar.org and click My State
Bar to access the CLE Tracker feature.
4. Inaccurate mailing address. The BBE mails your
form to the address on file with the State Bar. If you don't receive the
form and therefore don't file, your license could be suspended.
5. Unapproved courses. Never assume courses have
been approved for Wisconsin credit. Check the BBE Web
site to access a searchable database for approved CLE courses.
6. Unsigned form. CLE Form 1 is a sworn document and
requires a signature to testify to the truth of its contents.
7. Read your mail. The BBE routinely sends out two
CLE reporting forms, one in October and another in November. Attorneys
who have not filed by the Dec. 31 deadline receive a warning in
A certified mail notice is sent to attorneys not in compliance in
early April, warning them that failure to comply in 60 days will result
in automatic suspension at the end of that 60 days. Certified mail
notices of suspensions are sent in early June as a courtesy.
"If the BBE sends you a deficiency notice, pay close attention," says
Rankin. "If you filed and there is a deficiency in your report that is
not corrected it will result in suspension."
For more information, contact BBE CLE Records Manager Tammy McMillen
at (608) 261-2350.
State Bar members can track their CLE credits on the State Bar's Web
site. The WisBar My CLE Tracker feature automatically tracks credits
earned through State Bar of Wisconsin CLE programs. In addition, you can
enter CLE credits earned from other providers. Visit www.wisbar.org and
click My State Bar to access the CLE Tracker feature.
Wisconsin lawyer heads effort to form
practice assistance for lawyers affected by Hurricane Katrina
Milwaukee attorney Ross Kodner wasted little time offering help to
lawyers and law practices that suffered in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina. Kodner quickly launched www.helpkatrinalawyers.org - a
centralized, online resource offering products and services to displaced
lawyers and law firms.
Citing a Louisiana State Bar Association report, Kodner said that at
least one-third of all New Orleans lawyers are either not able to access
their offices or find a way to resume their practices in the aftermath
of Katrina. Relief efforts are also being directed to affected lawyers
in Mississippi and Alabama. "Facing a likely avalanche of businesses and
individuals with serious disaster-related legal issues, the ability to
restore our colleagues to functionality is of paramount importance,"
Kodner said. "The public in the affected areas will have many legal
issues - bankruptcy, collections problems, foreclosures, employment
issues, probate and elder law problems - and probably not nearly enough
lawyers available to help. That's the end result we're targeting - help
the lawyers so they can help the people."
For more information, visit www.helpkatrinalawyers.org, or contact
Kodner at email@example.com or (414) 540-9433.
Visit www.wisbar.org/katrina for more
information about these and other opportunities to help hurricane
Wisconsin lawyers help hurricane evacuees in
Milwaukee, volunteers needed for legal services desk
On Sept. 19, the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic opened a legal
services desk at the State Fair Park shelter for hurricane evacuees.
Volunteers are needed Monday through Thursday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and
5:30 to 7 p.m.
More than 500 Hurricane Katrina evacuees have found shelter in
Wisconsin, and many of them are staying at the State Fair Park in
Milwaukee. Milwaukee attorneys Tanner Kilander and Julie Darnieder
visited the shelter and after talking with Red Cross officials, they
quickly realized that some evacuees need legal assistance on matters
that could be best handled by Wisconsin attorneys.
"More than 20 lawyers have volunteered for 90-minute shifts to answer
questions at the legal services desk," says Kilander. "Some lawyers have
volunteered for more than one shift to help us meet our commitment. We
don't know how long we will be there, but we plan to stay as long as we
are needed. Staffing the shifts is critical to this effort.
"Many evacuees aren't even thinking of legal questions they may have
until they see our table at the shelter," says Kilander. "Every area of
law is affected. When volunteers receive questions that they cannot
answer, other Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic volunteers are available
The State Bar is providing free professional liability coverage and
LexisNexis research for the volunteer attorneys.
To volunteer for the legal services desk, contact Kilander at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 640-8824. To help in other efforts
in the wake of the hurricane and future disaster situations, contact
Jeff Brown, State Bar Pro Bono Coordinator, at org jbrown wisbar wisbar jbrown org or (608)
Dane County Bar produces first in a series of
pro se family law videos
The Dane County Bar Association Delivery of Legal Services Committee
(DLSC) is developing a series of pro se divorce videos to assist pro se
litigants in navigating the divorce process. The committee, comprising
volunteer Dane County attorneys, spent two years developing the video
project and recently released "Moving On," the first of the series.
According to DLSC Committee Chair Jennifer Binkley, "Pro se family
law litigation is on the rise statewide, and this video helps the
litigants and the judicial system with this growing phenomenon. In 2004,
more than 60 percent of Wisconsin's family law litigants were
"The video also explains when starting a divorce action pro se may be
inappropriate, such as in cases of domestic violence or where there are
significant property issues. In these situations individuals are urged
to obtain legal representation," notes Binkley.
The State Bar Family Law Section, Government Lawyers Division, Local
Bar Grant Committee, Wisconsin Law Foundation, Dane County Pro Bono
Trust Fund, Dane County Bar Association, and more than 10 law firms and
companies sponsored the video. Three more videos, focusing on
substantive issues of child support, custody and placement, and property
issues, are planned. Each video will take about a year for fund raising,
development, and production.
The DCBA is distributing the video in VHS and DVD formats, free of
charge to nonprofit service organizations, libraries, and family court
commissioners statewide as well as providing access to the video in a
format that would allow organizations to post it on their own Web sites.
The video, which soon will be available in Spanish, also is available on
the State Bar's consumer Web site, LegalExplorer.com/ProSe.