Two Things Louisiana Lawyers Should Do Before Year End

HourglassWith 31 days until year end (and 24 shopping days until Christmas), Louisiana lawyers should think about at least these two things.

1. Get Your 2014 Continuing Legal Education

Louisiana lawyers must—not “should”—obtain 12.5 hours of MCLE each year, including 1 hour of ethics and one hour of professionalism. For 2014, all credit hours must be earned by December 31, 2014, and must be reported to the MCLE Committee no later than January 31, 2015.1 To see if you have earned all required CLE hours, click here and fill in your bar number and date of birth in the boxes at the top right: Louisiana MCLE Transcript.

For upcoming CLE programs, consider the excellent LADC 2014 Defense Lawyers’ Seminar at the Windsor Court Hotel on December 12, 2014, and any other programs listed on the MCLE Committee’s Approved Course Calendar.

2. Consider Getting Rid of That Unnecessary Paper

Your office is probably full of boxes—or bills from Iron Mountain document storage. You can discard more of it than you think. In making the “keep” or “toss” decision, consider the nature of the client, the nature of the matter and the nature of the document. Louisiana Rule 1.15(a) provides as follows:

Paper Files in StackA lawyer shall hold property of clients or third persons that is in a lawyer’s possession in connection with a representation separate from the lawyer’s own property. Funds shall be kept in a separate account maintained in a bank or similar institution in the state where the lawyer’s office is situated, or elsewhere with the consent of the client or third person. . . . Complete records of such account funds and other property shall be kept by the lawyer and shall be preserved for a period of five years after termination of the representation.

Furthermore, under Louisiana Civil Code Article 3496, “[a]n action by a client against an attorney for the return of papers delivered to him for purposes of a law suit is subject to a liberative prescription of three years. This prescription commences to run from the rendition of a final judgment in the law suit or the termination of the attorney-client relationship.”

Given these standards, a good rule of thumb is to keep client files for five (5) years following termination of the matter—unless there is a good reason for maintaining the file for a longer period of time. Such a good reason would exist if the file contains promissory notes, wills, trusts or similar documents.

For more thoughts on this important topic, see this recent post by Ernie Svenson over at PaperlessChase.com: What Original Papers are Attorneys Required to Keep (Nov. 17, 2014). Better yet, to get CLE and to get rid of that unnecessary paper at the same time, consider attending his CLE: Small Firm Bootcamp Seminar.

 

  1. Lawyers newly admitted in 2014 must must obtain 12.5 hours, including 8 hours of ethics, professionalism or law office management, which can be earned in the year of admission or the following calendar year. The eight hour component can be earned using any combination of these credits. All credit hours must be earned by December 31, 2015, and must be reported to the MCLE Committee no later than January 31, 2016.