Bar News - July 15, 2015
NHMCLE Delays: A Hiccup, not a Halt as ART Online Reporting Advances
After an email notice was sent July 1 to roughly 5,000 bar members about continuing legal education requirements, the immediate response of attorneys logging into the online credit-reporting system caused the website to crash. The system was back up with additional processing capacity the following day.
Some members also had difficulty entering log-ins or program credits due to a glitch caused by the Attorney Reporting Tool (ART) switching over to the new reporting year that runs from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016. Staff and the NHMCLE technology contractor fixed the volume-related issues and data-entry glitches and, by Monday, July 6, more than 1,500 members had filed online affidavits of compliance.
“We apologize to members, and we thank them for their patience over the past year,” said Jeannine McCoy, executive director of the NH Bar Association, which administers NH Supreme Court Rule 53 – NH Minimum Continuing Legal Education (NHMCLE) compliance functions for the court system.
NHMCLE DOs and DON’Ts
DO take credits now. If a member lacks sufficient credits for the compliance period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, ART will apply newly earned credits to reduce the negative balance to zero, and then apply any remaining credits to the current reporting year (July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016.) If you have a surplus of credits in the just-completed year, those credits will appear as a positive balance in ART.
DON’T panic. There have been some glitches and processing delays this year because of the new system. Keep in mind that there are no fines or consequences unless you fail to complete the process by Oct. 1.
DON’T call. If you have questions, please send an email with your name, Bar ID number and your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Members may not have understood what compelled the changeover to a self-certifying, self-reporting, paperless filing system, but we are confident that the most difficult part of the transition is over,” McCoy said. “More than 90 percent of members have now created accounts on the ART system and will be able to select their own CLEs, consistent with the requirements of Rule 53, record the credits they earn, and at the end of each year, certify their compliance – all without any paper changing hands. With more than 5,000 attorneys subject to the rule – that’s a lot of savings in time and paperwork on all sides.” And because NHMCLE administration uses the Association’s database, even more effort is saved by the automatic recording of NHBA-sponsored CLE program attendance in ART.
The escalating number of CLE providers and growth of the bar membership had made the paper-intensive process unsustainable. To help members navigate the transition, McCoy has provided answers to some common questions about the process. (These answers apply to the majority of cases. For special situations or particular details, visit the NHMCLE page. The ART reporting tool, at www.nhmcle.org, also provides guidance on interpretation of Rule 53.)
When is the deadline for completing NHMCLE requirements?
This year, the deadline is Oct. 1 for attorneys to report their compliance, including the filing of the compliance affidavit and payment of a $10 filing fee, for the reporting period that ended June 30, 2015. After Oct. 1, late fees may be levied by the NH Supreme Court. Noncompliant attorneys who do not pay late fees will then be subject to license suspension. It is anticipated that the 2016 deadline will be moved to Aug. 1.
As with your finances or your taxes, it’s best not to fall behind. Complete your credits and certify your compliance for the reporting year that ended June 30 as soon as possible, and then you can begin reporting your credits for the current reporting year.
Why is there a $10 filing fee with the affidavit? Why not just include that with last month’s dues and court fees?
Most members probably don’t recall that the Supreme Court instituted an NHMCLE fee in 2006 to support NHMCLE administration. The Association then asked the Court to suspend the fees because the growth in the number of CLE providers and their corresponding sponsor fees, as well as late fees paid by delinquent filers, was supporting operations.
The new online filing system eliminates CLE sponsor fees and it is anticipated that fewer late fees will be collected due to the convenience and flexibility of self-certification and self-reporting. The filing fee is attached to the affidavit-filing process, rather than being tacked on to the Court Fees invoice, to more closely relate the fee to the program it supports, and to avoid complications caused by a NHMCLE reporting year that is different than the association and court billing cycles.
Have more questions?
ART, found at www.nhmcle.org, has informational resources. The NHMCLE page on the NH Bar Association website also has video tutorials and other important course-filing information.
With thousands of members addressing their reporting tasks at the same time, it is not economically feasible to have enough trained staff on hand to answer every phone call or email. The Bar Association encourages members to avail themselves of the online resources before calling or emailing, and to be patient as it may take several days to get a response.