Illinois Supreme Court Amends Rule on Minimum Continuing Legal Education Requirement
On April 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court announced changes to a rule impacting the requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) in Illinois. The rule change will go into effect on July 1, 2017, and begins with attorneys with the two-year reporting period ending June 30, 2019.
Pursuant to Amended Supreme Court Rule 794(d), Illinois lawyers will be required to complete one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and one hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE as part of the Professional Responsibility CLE requirement.
Studies show that the legal field falls short in the areas of diversity and wellness as compared to other fields. Promoting education on these issues helps address two of the profession's greatest challenges, and positions Illinois as one of the first states to require such programming. Illinois is one of seven states that allows diversity and inclusion to qualify for ethics/professionalism credit. With the amendment of Rule 794(d), it became the fourth state to require diversity-related CLE, and it is one of only three states that will require mental health and substance abuse education. As a result, Illinois is one of only two states that requires both diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse education for continuing legal education.
“The Court’s experience has shown that lawyers have not been seeking out or cannot find continuing legal education programs that might offer meaningful help in addressing their own substance abuse and mental health issues or those of their colleagues," said Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier. "We have also noted that as Illinois and the Illinois bar have become more diverse, there has been a marked lag in interest in educational programs addressed to facilitating diversity and inclusion generally and in the legal profession specifically."
The hope is that this amendment will foster a healthier profession that is better able to understand and address the needs of an increasingly multicultural society.
The total number of hours required to fulfill the professional responsibility requirement will remain at six, and the total number of CLE credits required in each two-year reporting period will remain at 30. Lawyers may alternatively continue to fulfill the required six hours of Professional Responsibility CLE by completing the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program as set forth in Illinois Supreme Court Rule 795(d)(11).
The language of the Amended Rule 794(d) and all of the Supreme Court Rules can be found on the Court’s website at http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/.