It was not long ago that the June 1 outgoing mail from the New Hampshire Bar Association would take up an entire loading dock at the bulk mail facility in Concord, delivered by a caravan of NHBA staffers’ cars loaded with hundreds of mail buckets.
That massive movement of paper has gradually been replaced by online tools that have improved every year. First came online bill statements and then acceptance of credit cards, innovations that members readily adopted. Last year, the NH Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board launched the Attorney Reporting Tool (ART) that enables members to manage their own activity records online. The progress continues this year with an entirely online process, governed by a single deadline, and a new, personalized web page that will enable attorneys to access forms and monitor their compliance.
The deadline for all licensure obligations is July 1.
“The Bar Association has collaborated with the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the Attorney Discipline Office, and we are pleased to provide a more streamlined process for members this year,” said NHBA Executive Director Jeannine McCoy. “Change is seldom welcome, but this new program, dubbed 3-1-1, is intended to help members more easily complete their annual registration obligations.”
For example, this year members will not be required to download, print out, and mail in their Trust Accounting Compliance certificates. Instead, akin to a guided interface such as TurboTax, members will complete the trust accounting certificate entirely online, and submit it electronically to the Attorney Discipline Office.
To ease the transition, resources have been developed to orient members to the new tools and processes, including free workshops and video replays (with Bar staff members in attendance) to explain the process, as well as videos and slideshows that can be viewed on the website. (Visit www.nhbar.org for schedule). For those members intimidated by or adverse to technology, several clinics will be held next month at various locations around the state where Association staff members will be available for personalized assistance.
The Bar Association is finalizing the personalized Member Dashboard pages on the website that will provide a single destination for members to access necessary reporting forms and monitor their progress on completing their annual licensing obligations.
Ten Steps to an Easy License Renewal Process
1. ART Appreciation
The Attorney Reporting Tool (ART) at www.nhmcle.org enables Bar members to keep track of their legal education credits. Credits from NHBA programs automatically appear in ART; external program credits must be entered.
Tip: Videos posted at www.nhbar.org will assist members in using ART.
2. Make Way for Email
Starting June 1, watch for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Designate that email address as a safe-sender.
Tip: The website has instructions on allowing emails from NHBA addresses.
3. Payment Made Easy
The June 1 email will contain a link direct to an online statement with a payment function. Pay with a credit card or check.
Tip: Visa, MasterCard, or Discover accepted. (Sorry, not American Express – their fees are too high). Members also can pay by check.
4. Check the Box
Funding sources are strained, so the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Program needs your contribution more than ever. More reasons to help.
Tip: Don’t forget that your Pro Bono donation is tax-deductible.
5. Assume TAC Form Is Required
Most active-status Bar members must e-file the Trust Accounting Compliance form, even if they are not actively practicing or do not have trust accounts. The online form asks eligibility questions and only requires members to fill in the necessary answers.
Tip: Law firms with a single trust account can have the managing partner fill out a single TAC form for all firm lawyers.
6. Be Prepared
Make sure to have bank account information handy before starting to fill out the online trust accounting compliance form. It will not save information if you stop without completing it.
Tip: Attorney information such as IOLTA account numbers can be cut and pasted from other sources to avoid typing errors.
7. Help Is Available
If you have questions on how much you really owe, on whether you filled out the trust accounting form correctly, or about NHMCLE reporting, there are resources to help. Look first to the website to see if there are resources there that can answer your question.
Tip: If you must email or call, please check the website to identify who needs to be contacted. And please be patient. With all members going through the process during this time, NHBA inboxes are brimming.
8. Go for Green by July 1
Log-in to the compliance portion of the member dashboard. Members will see three colored bars in the middle of the page – for NHMCLE, Trust Account Compliance, and Annual Dues and Court fees. Each of these boxes will be RED until payments or forms are received. Three GREEN boxes means a member has completed all necessary steps.
Tip: Submissions will be acknowledged on-screen or via email. Member Dashboard will take up to 48 hours to display updates.
9. Track It
Official correspondence from email@example.com will be retrievable from the “Messages” tab on the Member Dashboard in case you have a question about what you have been asked to provide. The Dashboard will be available online starting June 1.
Tip: Not every email from NHBA staff will appear on the Dashboard. All notices from firstname.lastname@example.org will appear.
10. Update Member Info
Members are encouraged to check the accuracy of their contact information on the NHBA Member Directory. Updated photos may be sent to email@example.com.
Tip: Getting it all done before July 1 saves time and energy.