Professionalism, Ethics, and Civility CLE Guidelines

Rule 794(d) defines PR courses as those in the areas of professionalism, civility, legal ethics, diversity and inclusion, and mental health and substance abuse. Civility, professionalism, and legal ethics are discussed below.

In addition, please remember that every PR course must still meet Rule 795 accreditation standards.


Reducing attorney incivility in Illinois lies at the heart of the Commission on Professionalism’s mission. Incivility results when lawyers erroneously equate aggressiveness with advocacy.

Further, lawyers who act with single-minded aggressiveness in representing a client often fail to fulfill the simultaneous duties they owe to the court, to the rule of law, to the administration of justice, and to the public good.

Courses may address incivility from clients, members of the court, the public, and others interacting with the legal profession. Examples of topics for a civility course include:

  • How to alleviate incivility in the profession
  • How to engage in difficult conversations (e.g., using reframing skills)
  • How to defuse highly charged situations
  • How to conduct a civil deposition or mediation

Titles of civility courses that have been previously approved for PR credit include:

  • Practicing Civility and Constructive Ways to Deal with Those Who Don’t
  • Hamilton: An American Lawyer – Lessons for Your Practice
  • Taking the High Road: How to Deal Ethically with Bullies Who Don’t Play by the Rules
  • Civil Discourse: What Would George Washington Say?
  • Ethics, Civility, Diversity, and Discovery: Being Nice and Being Careful


Professionalism calls us to be mindful of the lawyer’s roles as an officer of the legal system, advocate, counselor, negotiator, and problem solver.

Professionalism asks us to commit to improving the law, the legal system, and access to that system. These values make us a profession enlisted in service not only to the client but to the administration of justice and the public good.

Providers should incorporate these principles and values into their professionalism programming.

Examples of topics for a professionalism course include:

  • The relationship between legal practice and technology
  • Motion and trial practice, deposition training, negotiation strategies, settlement simulations, mediation
  • Effective legal research techniques
  • Law practice management
  • Client communication and client relations
  • Techniques to address the misuse and abuse of discovery and litigation
  • Billable hours and responsible fees
  • Pro bono training
  • Public perceptions of the legal profession
  • Effective management and processes

Titles of professionalism courses that have been previously approved for PR credit include:

  • Negotiation Success Series
  • Fundamentals of Effective Client Communication
  • Settings & Customizations for Lawyers Using Android
  • Hands-On: Create Charts for Your Cases in Microsoft Excel
  • The Art & Science of Criminal Defense: Expert Advice to Sharpen Your Skills

Legal Ethics

The Rules of Professional Conduct establish minimal ethical standards that every lawyer must comply with in order to promote the highest standards of the legal profession.

Examples of topics for a legal ethics course include:

  • The conflict between duty to client and duty to the system of justice or to the public good
  • The conflict between duty to client and duty to opposing attorney
  • An attorney’s responsibilities as an officer of the legal system
  • Spotting and avoiding malpractice
  • Other duties and responsibilities articulated in the Rules of Professional Conduct

Titles of legal ethics courses that have been previously approved for PR credit include:

  • I Could Get Away With An Ethics Violation, But SHOULD I Do It?
  • Let’s Get Technical: Digital Security Ethics for Law Firms
  • From a Different Perspective: The Ethical Challenge Presented by Social Media Metadata
  • Conflicts of Interest: A Practical Legal Ethics Guide
  • Ethics of Going Into Business With Clients