Bar News - October 19, 2007
Streamlined: New NHMCLE Reporting Reduces Paper Trail
Attorneys filing their NHMCLE (New Hampshire Minimum Continuing Legal Education) compliance forms might rest a little easier this year. That’s because NHMCLE, which is governed by Supreme Court Rule 53, is instituting a new process for tracking yearly earned CLE credits.
This year, Lee Jones, Assistant to the NHMCLE Board, sent out more than 4,100 Certificates of Compliance to Bar members in active practice and asked them all to review the course and credit listings for accuracy. Attorneys who were in compliance by June 30, 2007, the end of the compliance year, were sent a white form. Those not yet in compliance were sent a pink form, with instructions to show compliance by October 1, 2007 to avoid late filing fees.
Attorneys in compliance by June 30, 2007 were not required to respond in any way unless there were corrections needed, but were advised that all their course listings are subject to audit. Those receiving pink certificates were instructed to sign their forms and return them to the NHMCLE Office with the attendance records from their new courses attached to show their CLE compliance.
For the 2007 compliance year, Jones expects about 75 percent of the forms will not have to be returned. The goal of the new system, Jones said, is to cut back on the administrative time, time spent on the phone answering attorneys’ questions, and any other general processing time.
“There were a couple of reasons for us to move in this direction,” Jones said. “Primarily, we have online records now which allow us to see who is in compliance and who is not. So why should we make lawyers take the extra step when we already know where they stand in terms of their credit requirements?”
And though it’s still too early to tell what the full results of the change will be, Jones has already noticed a significant drop in phone calls, the amount of paper crossing her desk, and an increase in the time she spends talking to attorneys who actually need assistance.
“I’ve gotten a few calls from attorneys’ assistants who really appreciate the new system,” Jones said. “All they have to do is compare their records with our records and send back the receipts from newly completed CLE programs.”
Jones hopes the new system will continue to make attorneys’ lives easier—and that, as time goes on, compliance will increase—and fines decrease. “We want to make this task less burdensome to everyone involved,” she concluded.