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Don't Forget: This Year's Bar Dues, MCLE Reporting Are Slightly Different

California lawyers, it's that time of year again: time to settle your account with the bar. Annual membership fees are due by March 1st. The deadline for reporting MCLE compliance is also fast approaching, if you're an attorney with a last name beginning with letters N-Z.

Don't expect the bar to send you a bill in the mail, however. For the first time, the California Bar Association is requiring members to pay through the state bar's website. And that's not the only change this year.

How to Pay This Year's Bar Dues

Usually, you can count on the California bar to send you billing statements in the mail. Not any more. The bar association has switched over to online payments. To access your billing statement and pay your annual fee, you'll need to do the following:

1. Go to Calbar.ca.gov
2. Log in to "My State Bar Profile" on the upper right
3. Click the "Membership Billing" link or "Online Fee Statement" link.

From there, you can calculate your fee and make a payment. Or, if you prefer paper, you can download and print out your fee statement, allowing you to hand it off to someone else to take care of or to mail in a check yourself.

If you're paying fees for a whole firm, you can now use the bar's Agency Billing system to make payments for multiple lawyers at once.

Finally, if you want a 2017 plastic bar membership card, you'll have to request one online, through your bar profile. The bar will no longer send them out automatically.

What's Up With These MCLE Dates?

You may have noticed that the March 1st membership fee deadline is later than usual. The Bar has pushed payments back a month this year, because of the new online payment system.

The same is true of MCLE reporting. The State Bar's Board of Trustees approved an extension of the reporting deadline recently. That decision was reported out by the State Bar via email and the March 1st dates appear in several places on the bar website.

You may, however, see a February 1st deadline on your bar profile page. That section of the bar's website does not seem to have been updated to reflect the later deadline, though you can contact the bar at 1-888-800-3400 if you are concerned about the discrepancy.

As a reminder, lawyers in MCLE compliance Group 3, with some exceptions, must complete a minimum of 25 hours of MCLE, including 4 hours in legal ethics, 1 hour on substance abuse or competence issues, and 1 hour on the elimination of bias.

And if you've fallen behind, don't leave completing your requirements to the eleventh hour. Last-minute MCLE reporters are at a higher risk of running into problems with the bar's compliance auditors, with one third of the last-day reporters in 2015 found to have some deficiency.

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