Lawyer Sanctioned for Having His Assistant Take His CLE Courses For Him

In an interesting twist, a solo practitioner who has been disciplined may find it difficult to comply with the terms of the ethics sanction imposed on him for relying on his assistant to take his Continuing Legal Education classes for him.

Justice Thomas R. McKeon of the Maine Superior Court imposed a one-year suspension on attorney Donald F. Brown, but specified that the suspension be stayed if Brown completes his CLE requirements and accepts court-appointed work, including criminal defense and protective-custody cases.

The problem is that Brown is not eligible, at this point, to accept court appointments through the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, which oversees all indigent defense appointments.

The commission’s executive director, Justin Andrus, says that the agency was not a party to the ethics case and is not required to contract with Brown at all. So it is unclear at this point exactly how Brown will be able to fulfill his mandated pro-bono work.

Brown became aware in late February 2020 that he had to complete 12 hours of CLE. Brown signed up for four live seminars that require watchers to acknowledge their presence when prompted. But Brown realized that he had scheduling conflicts at the time of the classes, so he asked his assistant to sign on to the online classes in his place.

Text messages between Brown and his assistant are strong evidence that he was asking her to take the classes, rather than to simply download them for future viewing. The assistant took at least three of the courses.

Additionally, Brown had three instances of prior discipline. He received a warning in 2002 in connection with client communication, a public reprimand in 2006 for allowing the statute of limitations to expire without filing a lawsuit or telling his client, and a public reprimand in 2016 for failure to serve a party with court filings.

You can read more about this story here.

Make sure you are in compliance with all of your current CLE requirements to avoid any possibility of sanctions. Fortunately, we have bundles that will keep you compliant, are affordable, engaging and completely online for your convenience. Take a look at our bundles here and just email us at if you have any questions regarding your state’s CLE compliance rules.