Changes would increase the elimination of bias requirement for attorneys from one to two hours, create an implicit bias sub-topic, and establish MCLE provider requirements.
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Deadline: June 30, 2020
The State Bar establishes and administers the minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) program for attorneys throughout California. Currently, attorneys must complete a minimum of 25 continuing legal education hours every three years, including at least one hour devoted to the recognition and elimination of bias in the legal profession and society.
As part of its diversity and inclusion goals, the State Bar’s strategic plan established the objective of revising the MCLE rules to consider increasing the elimination of bias hours requirement and creation of possible sub-topics. The California Legislature also passed a bill in 2019 adding a new statute to Business and Professions Code section 6070.5. The statute requires the State Bar to incorporate implicit bias into the MCLE curriculum and to ensure MCLE providers offering implicit bias courses meet certain training and content requirements outlined in the statute.
The Council on Access and Fairness (COAF), an advisory body to the Board of Trustees, worked on developing proposed rule changes during the second half of 2019. This included soliciting feedback from current MCLE providers regarding the possible impact of the proposed changes. COAF’s goals were to achieve the State Bar’s objective under the strategic plan and to conform to the requirements and timeline of Business and Professions Code 6070.5.
In furtherance of these goals, COAF has recommended increasing the elimination of bias hours from one to two, establishing a sub-topic that formally incorporates implicit bias into the MCLE curriculum, and establishing the provider requirements as mandated by statute.
COAF recommends revising rule 2.72 of the Rules of the State Bar to increase the elimination of bias requirement from one hour to two and to establish a sub-topic devoted to implicit bias. At least one of those two hours must be focused on implicit bias content. COAF also recommends that the State Bar revise rules 2.52, 3.601 and 3.602 of the Rules of the State Bar to reference and/or adopt the same language in Business and Professions Code section 6070.5; this will ensure MCLE providers offering implicit bias courses are aware of, and comply with, the training and course content requirements of the statute. The proposed rules would apply on the same timeline as Business and Professions Code section 6070.5 (i.e. providers would comply beginning January 1, 2022, and attorneys would report their increased hours beginning with the compliance period ending January 31, 2024). Additional proposed revisions in rules 2.71, 3.603 and 3.604 are nonsubstantive and intended to conform the rules to actual practice, reflect organizational changes, or to clarify the rule.
No fiscal or personnel impact identified.
Board of Trustees
June 30, 2020