by Mel Practice
I was at a CLE program in Vail, and while on the chair lift, a fellow lawyer and I were discussing the morning’s program. I really learned from our exchange. Can I claim credit for our talk? (It was a long chair ride.) If not, can I at least bill for it?
Dear Ski Bum:
Sure, you can claim CLE credit for the discussion. There are just a couple of hoops you’ll need to jump through. First, you’ll have to get your chair-lift partner certified as a CLE provider by the CLE Board. That shouldn’t be a problem. Then, this new CLE provider will have to file a Form 5 "Request for Recognition of a Teaching Activity" with the CLE Board, which will include your chair-lift partner’s qualifications, along with the agenda (times and topics) for your chair-lift symposium. Your 10-minute chair-lift ride will then qualify for 1/6 of an hour of CLE credit, which, rounded to the nearest whole number, amounts to zip, zilch and nada. And all it will have cost you is several hours of your time. Yeah, this is a really good idea.
Can you bill for it? Sure, but only in equal proportion to its value, as represented by the CLE credit you will get. How much does it cost you to send a bill for $16.67, anyway?
~Mel N. Head
Dear Ski Bum:
The real deal here is the costs. Assuming there is a client whose case is even remotely related to the topic of conversation on the ski lift, the bill for time would include the cost of the room, mileage (or maybe even airfare) to Vail, at least a couple of meals (we can speculate about where those might be purchased), a few drinks, plus the lift ticket and ski rental. The lift ticket qualifies because how else would the conversation with the other attorney have occurred if not admitted to the ski lift? And how is the attorney expected to get down the mountain without skis? One could make the argument that said attorney could have taken the lift back down without actually skiing, but then he would have looked like a wuss, and no one wants their lawyer in that position or held up to public ridicule.
Oh yeah — while in Vail, the attorney’s car maybe needed a tune up, brake job or new transmission. Those things happen, and someone’s got to pay for them. Just don’t bill for airfare and car maintenance. See People v. Kotarek, 941 P.2d 925 (Colo. 1997).
~Mel O. Yellow
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