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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 10, October 2004

    Legal News & Trends

    Seven Common CLE Reporting Errors

    Attorneys admitted to practice in even-numbered years should receive the 2003 - 04 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. This year's filing deadline is Dec. 31. Attorneys admitted to practice in 2004 do not need to report until 2006.

    "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."

    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 at www.wicourts.gov/services/attorney/edu.htm 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 March.

    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. The State Bar publishes attorneys' license status on its Web site, WisBar. Avoid the embarrassment of having your clients learn about your suspension through WisBar."

    For more information, contact BBE CLE Records Manager Tammy McMillen at (608) 261-2350.

    Wisconsin attorneys cross the finish line in Ironman Triathlon

    Ironman lawyers (Age) Time

    Daniel Barker, Madison (34) 12:19

    Daniel Mitchell, Milwaukee (35) 12:11

    Jon Becker, Madison 11:09

    Diane Ramthun, Madison (51) 15:57

    Howard Goldman, Madison (54) 14:57

    Daniel Schlichting, Madison (38) 14:58

    Michael Gotzler, Madison (33) 9:53

    Peg Stafford, Madison (56) 15:10

    Scott Klettke, Madison (21) 13:33

    John Tedesco, Madison (37) 15:56

    Dean Mabie, Milwaukee (39) 12:30

    Craig Witz, Madison (45) 15:29

    Lana Mades, Madison (32) 15:55

    Robert Young, Ann Arbor, Mich. (31) 16:30

    Thirteen State Bar members and one U.W. law student participated in the 2004 Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon on Sept. 12 in Madison. Peg Stafford, Madison, placed first in the Women's 55-59 age division. Michael Gotzler, Madison, placed 22nd overall beating many professional athletes in the largest race - 2,188 participants - in the 25-year history of the Ironman Triathlon. Their efforts qualify them for the 2005 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

    "This was my third Ironman event, and I have never experienced anything like it," says Madison attorney Craig Witz. "With more than 2,100 participants, it was like swimming in a blender full of boxing gloves. It was brutal! After the 2.4 mile swim we biked 112 miles through Verona, Mt. Horeb, and Cross Plains. There were huge crowds of fans along the entire route."

    This is Gotlzer's third Ironman and the second time he earned a place in the championship. He heads to Hawaii in October, replete with his own cheering squad - his wife and two daughters - to tackle the ultimate Ironman event.

    "Each time you race, you learn important lessons to help you improve your next race," says Gotzler. "The first time I learned about the importance of nutrition. In Hawaii I will learn not only how to swim in saltwater, but how to swim in saltwater without a wetsuit."

    Stafford has been a long-distance runner for years, but this was her first Ironman. She was astonished to learn she took first place in her division, which also qualifies her for the 2005 Championship. "An honor," Stafford says, "but I think I'll pass. Ironman Wisconsin was just wonderful from the beautiful weather to the lack of wind to the wonderful sight of that finish line. It was a perfect day."

    Law-related email lists help attorneys communicate quickly and easily

    Electronic mail lists are an excellent way to communicate with other lawyers and share concerns, ask questions, or offer advice. The State Bar supports more than 95 electronic lists. Two new law-related electronic lists, brought to our attention by State Bar members, are available through Yahoo.

    Law-related electronic mail lists. The Wisconsin Animal Law electronic mail list is a forum for lawyers and law students who wish to discuss national and local developments in the emerging practice area of animal law. Madison attorney Megan A. Senatori, DeWitt Ross & Stevens, began the electronic list and serves as its moderator.

    "I teach an animal law course at the U.W. Law School where I have come in contact with other attorneys who share my interest in animal law. It is such a new practice area, particularly in Wisconsin, that meeting colleagues who share the interest is not always easy."

    The PrideLaw Wisconsin electronic mail list is a forum where Wisconsin lawyers can exchange ideas and discuss legal issues concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Recent U.S. Supreme Court cases and the proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to ban civil unions and marriage for gay and lesbian couples make this list timely.

    Madison attorney Tamara B. Packard says, "With the rapidly changing legal landscape that gay and lesbian families are facing, from family law to employment to estate planning to taxes, attorneys who serve LGBT clients need to stay informed. We hope this list will serve as a resource for attorneys in navigating the grey areas of this cutting-edge area of the law and protecting their clients' interests."

    Any lawyer interested in partici-pating is welcome to join the electronic mail list. To join, visit http://groups.yahoo.com; under "Join a Group" type "PrideLawWisconsin." Follow the instructions on how to join, and after the moderator verifies you are a Wisconsin lawyer you will be admitted to the list.

    State Bar electronic mail lists. Subscribers must be members of the specific group that sponsors the list.