LOS ANGELES — The State Bar Court of California recently sentenced Berkeley attorney Eric Martin Sippel, 55, to one year of probation for failure to comply with the minimum continuing legal education hours required to keep his license in good standing.
The probation took effect Nov. 18, according to the State Bar website.
Court documents showed that Sippel, under penalty of perjury, said on Jan. 29, 2014, that he had completed the necessary 25 hours during the compliance period of Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2014. Sippel did not provide any documentation for the hours which the State Bar Court deemed “grossly negligent.”
The State Bar’s Office of Member Records and Compliance contacted the attorney about his hours July 7, 2014. Between the contact date and Aug. 1, 2014, Sippel completed all 25 hours.
The State Bar took several mitigating factors into consideration when placing Sippel on probation. Sippel has no prior record of discipline by the State Bar since he was admitted in 1991 following graduation from the Stanford University School of Law, according to his State Bar profile page. Sippel’s nearly 23-year history without misconduct indicates that further missteps are unlikely to occur.
Sippel also provided proof of his community service to the State Bar. Sippel sits on the board of directors for the East Bay United Soccer Club, a program where 25 percent of the players receive need-based scholarships, according to the organization's website. Sippel has devoted 30 to 60 hours per week to the organization since 2010, court documents said.
Sippel’s candor and cooperation also were taken into account. Since the attorney responded to the State Bar’s inquiry admitting that he had not kept adequate records for his MCLE hours, court documents stated that Sippel was owed mitigating credit. Lastly, Sippel entered into a pretrial stipulation preventing the need for a formal hearing, which saved the State Bar Court time and resources.
During the attorney’s one-year probation, Sippel must submit quarterly reports of his business dealings to the Office of Probation. Any updates to his personal or professional situations will also have to be provided to the office within 10 business days. Sippel must set up an appointment with the Office of Probation within the first 30 days of his probation.
The terms of Sippel’s probation also require him to complete ethics school, though he will not be credited with MCLE hours. In addition, Sippel must take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. A one-year suspension without hearing will be assessed for failure to pass the MPRE or adhere to any of the terms of his probation.
Sippel will be responsible for covering all court costs, which at the time of sentencing totaled $3,139. The costs are subject to increase, in which case Sippel will need to pay the additional fees.
Court documents for all State Bar Court of California cases and information on bar members can be found online at calbar.ca.gov.