Over the last several years, women and minority groups have given voice to the myriad of daily injustices they have suffered on account of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and other forms of identity. Industries around the country have looked into their own organizations and recognized the inequities that exist inside.
For decades, the legal profession has done the same. We have issued numerous reports and studies and spent vast resources to analyze why our profession continues to lag behind many others in diversity, inclusion, and representation of women and minorities. Yet, the challenge still remains in part because of one concept in particular: implicit bias.
Today, the existence of implicit bias continues to impede the true inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in our bench and bar. To develop a better understanding of implicit bias and equip our profession with the skills needed to counter it, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism developed Rebalance the Scales: Implicit Bias, Diversity, and the Legal Profession.
It is a free interactive online CLE course that showcases the importance of diversity and explains how implicit bias keeps the profession from recruiting, hiring, and retaining diverse talent. The online course features interviews with nationally-renowned experts in diversity and inclusion, and teaches attorneys about the neuroscience of implicit bias and how implicit bias plays out in the profession. Using interactive learning, the new diversity online CLE also lets attorneys navigate through real-life implicit bias scenarios, giving each user the opportunity to offer advice on what action legal professionals should take when encountering implicit bias in the workplace.
Rebalance the Scales is the third online CLE course that the Commission on Professionalism has developed in the past two years. Over 2000 attorneys around the country have taken the two previous courses. We anticipate our numbers will continue to increase with the inclusion of our third online CLE course.
The new online course also fulfills the Illinois diversity and inclusion CLE requirement.
As you may recall, in 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted the recommendation of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism to amend the state’s Professional Responsibility CLE requirement. As a result, during each two-year reporting period, Illinois attorneys must now take one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and one hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE.
Each half of the new implicit bias course has been approved for 0.5 hours of Diversity and Inclusion CLE credit in Illinois, together accounting for one full hour of CLE credit.
We encourage all lawyers to take the new online course. We are in the middle of a sea change in this country when it comes to issues of diversity and inclusion. The legal profession has long shaped American politics and justice. We are the protectors, enforcers, deliberators, and arbiters of justice. It is incumbent on us to both navigate and direct this change, and equip ourselves with every tool we need to succeed.
About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
The Commission on Professionalism was established by the Illinois Supreme Court in September 2005 to foster increased civility, professionalism and inclusion among lawyers and judges in the State of Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers, we work to better serve clients and society alike. These duties upheld by the Commission are defined under Supreme Court Rule 799(c). For more information, please visit 2Civility.org, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s website.