Wisconsin Lawyer: Legal News and Trends:

State Bar of Wisconsin

Sign In

Top Link Bar

    WisBar.org may be unavailable on December 13 between 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. for system maintenance.​​​​​​

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer

News & Pubs Search


    Legal News and Trends

    Share This:

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 78, No. 10, October 2005

    Legal news & trendsLegal 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 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."

    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 rkodner@microlaw.com or (414) 540-9433.

    Visit www.wisbar.org/katrina for more information about these and other opportunities to help hurricane victims.

    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 to help."

    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 tannerkilander@hotmail.com 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) 250-6177.

    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 unrepresented.

    "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.