In July, the CLE Board issued two updates to the CLE program rules (22 NYCRR 1500.2), including the addition of a new category of CLE credit.
In addition to ethics and professionalism, skills, law practice management, and areas of professional practice, a new category was added for diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias courses. This category of credit is effective January 1, 2018. Providers of CLE will now be able to classify courses as diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias courses.
Under the new rule "Categories of CLE Credit as Defined in the Program Rules," 22 NYCRR 1500.2(c)-(g), diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias courses, programs and activities must relate to the practice of law and may include, among other things, implicit and explicit bias, equal access to justice, serving a diverse population, diversity and inclusion initiatives in the legal profession, and sensitivity to cultural and other differences when interacting with members of the public, judges, jurors, litigants, attorneys and court personnel.
The CLE Board outlined that these programs may include, among other things, diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias based on, for example, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age or disability.
The CLE Board also made changes to CLE Program Rule §1500.22 Minimum Requirements.
At least one credit hour must now be in the area of diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias. Attorneys due to re-register on or after July 1, 2018 must meet this requirement. This requirement applies to experienced attorneys (those admitted more than two years). No changes were made to rules relative to newly admitted attorneys.
Out of the minimum 24 credit hours of accredited continuing legal education each biennial reporting cycle, at least one credit hour must be in diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias. Attorneys must still complete four credit hours in ethics and professionalism. The ethics and professionalism and diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias components may be intertwined with other courses.
Excerpt From the Program Rules
CLE PROGRAM RULE §1500.22 | Minimum Requirements (a) Credit Hours
Each attorney shall complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of accredited continuing legal education each biennial reporting cycle in ethics and professionalism, skills, law practice management, areas of professional practice, or diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias, at least four (4) credit hours of which shall be in ethics and professionalism and at least one (1) credit hour of which shall be in diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias. Ethics and professionalism, skills, law practice management, areas of professional practice, and diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias are defined in §1500.2. The ethics and professionalism and diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias components may be intertwined with other courses. [effective July 1, 2018]
Attorneys due to re-register on or after July 1, 2018 must meet this requirement.
For more information about the CLE Rules, visit www.nycourts.gov/Attorneys/CLE.
State Bar Support
The State Bar has a long history of encouraging and promoting diversity and inclusion and elimination of bias in the legal profession. New York joins California and Minnesota, two states that have long required attorneys to fulfill separate diversity and inclusion CLE requirements.
A sampling of recent course offerings which would satisfy the diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias requirement includes:
• Representing LGBT Clients After Obergefell
• Constance Baker Motley Symposium: The Impact of Implicit Bias on Lawyers and the Legal Profession
• Human Trafficking in NYS: Legal Issues and Advocating for the Victim
• Representing the Transgender Client Through the Arc of Life
• The Path to Marriage Equality & Beyond: Representing LGBT Clients in a Post-DOMA World
• Justice, Race and Police Force
• Special Education Update
• Representing LGBTQ Children in Family Court
• Immigration Cases in Criminal and Family Law Areas
• Interplay between DOMA and the Marriage Equality Act
Courses tend to fall into one or more of the following categories: (1) how lawyers perceive and interact with each other as employers, colleagues and partners; (2) how lawyers perceive and interact with those they come in contact with during the course of practicing law, such as court personnel, witnesses, jurors, judges and opposing counsel; (3) ways in which lawyers can better understand and represent their clients who face barriers, biases and discrimination; (4) non-discrimination, non-harassment and competent representation as part of a lawyer's ethical obligations; (5) discrimination and bias in the broader legal and societal context and the role of lawyers in addressing them; and (6) the law and legal issues as they relate to diverse groups and protected classes.
The State Bar's Committee on Continuing Legal Education met in July 2017. In an effort to assist attorneys with compliance with the new rules, free programs, including live webcasts, will be scheduled in 2018 on diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias topics for NYSBA members.
NYSBA members will be able to download programs online, on demand about diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias topics to meet this requirement as part of a member benefit. We will be designing addition programs on diversity, inclusion and implicit bias. We welcome your ideas for program topics and speakers. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your course proposals and speaker suggestions.
Follow us on NYSBACLE to learn more about the latest course offerings which will meet the diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias category at @NYSBACLE and @NYSBALPM. View upcoming programs at www.nysba.org/CLE
Effective January 1, 2018
New Category of CLE Credit: "Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias"
Effective July 1, 2018
Change to Experienced Attorney Biennial CLE Requirement to Include One Credit Hour in Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias
What Is the CLE Board?
New York State's Continuing Legal Education program, which was implemented through the collaborative efforts of the bench and the bar, seeks to enhance the New York Bar's proud tradition of professionalism in serving clients and the public.
The CLE Board is authorized to accredit providers of courses, programs, and other educational activities that will satisfy the requirements; determine the number of credit hours for which continuing legal education credit will be given for particular courses or programs; examine course materials and the qualifications of continuing legal education instructors; foster and encourage the offering of accredited courses and programs, particularly in geographically isolated regions.
The CLE Board reports annually on its activities to the chief judge, the presiding justices of the Appellate Divisions and the chief administrator of the courts.
The CLE Board consists of 16 resident members of the bench and bar. Three members are chosen by each of the presiding justices of the Appellate Divisions, and four members are chosen by the chief judge of the State of New York. The chief judge designates the chair. Board members serve at the pleasure of the administrative board of the courts. The CLE Board is currently chaired by Judge Betty Weinberg Ellerin.
To learn more about the CLE Board, visit www.nycourts.gov/Attorneys/CLE.