Colorado CLE Requirements Update: Colorado Adds Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity CLE Requirement

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By: The NBI Team

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Colorado CLE Requirements Update: Colorado Adds Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity CLE Requirement

In April 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted another round of changes to Colorado CLE requirements, changing the term “ethics” to “professional responsibility,” and adding a new CLE credit requirement for equity, diversity, and inclusivity training. The decision to add equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) credits comes after an active comment period that showed both strong support and skepticism.

EDI CLE requirements may be new to Colorado attorneys, but Colorado has now joined a growing group of states that have recently created similar requirements. In states like California, Illinois, Florida, Oregon, and now Colorado, all attorneys must complete a certain number of diversity and inclusion CLE credits each reporting cycle. Since this is a new rule, however, Colorado attorneys will have some time to adjust.

Colorado CLE Changes

New EDI Colorado CLE Requirements

Under this new Colorado CLE requirement, Colorado attorneys must take a minimum of two (2) CLE credits on the topic of equity, diversity, and inclusivity. These two (2) credits will make up a portion of the seven (7) professional responsibility credits usually required by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC).

Who Needs to Comply with the New EDI Rule?

The new rule does not go into effect until January 1, 2023. So, attorneys with reporting periods ending in 2021 and 2022 will not be subject to the new EDI CLE requirement. Attorneys with reporting periods beginning January 1, 2021, and ending December 31, 2023, will be the first to report EDI CLE credits among the seven (7) required professional responsibility CLE credits.

What Colorado CLEs Qualify for EDI CLE Credits?

Changes were made to Colorado’s CLE regulations which provide guidance for accrediting EDI CLEs. According to Colorado’s amended CLE regulations, for a program to be accredited as an EDI CLE, the activity or portion of the activity must address one of the following:

  •  Equal access to the legal system;
  •  Competent representation of diverse populations; or
  •  The recognition, mitigation, or elimination of bias in the legal profession or the legal system.

The Court has not provided any further details regarding the content requirements, but in its announcement regarding the changes, the OARC added that information about the new requirements would be added to their CLE FAQ page. A draft version of the new rule contained guidance on what qualified as a compliant EDI credit, but the Court ultimately abandoned it.

These changes to the Colorado CLE requirements came after a very active comment period in March and a public hearing in April where attorneys made statements both in favor and opposition to the new EDI CLE requirement. After addressing comments on both sides at the hearing, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted the changes on April 15, 2021.

These changes will become effective July 1, 2021, but again: Colorado attorneys won’t need to report EDI CLE credits until January 1, 2023.

From “Ethics” to “Professional Responsibility”

Although it received much less attention, it’s worth noting that the Colorado Supreme Court also changed term “ethics” to “professional responsibility.” All sections that used to refer to “ethics” CLE credit requirements now read “professional responsibility.”

Under the new term, “[f]or an activity or portion of an activity to be accredited as professional responsibility it must address legal ethics, legal professionalism, or equity, diversity, and inclusivity as these terms are defined in CLJE Regulation 103.1”

The cited regulation, CLJE Regulation 103.1, has also been changed to reflect both the change of terminology, and the addition of the EDI CLE requirement.

General Colorado CLE Requirements Remain the Same

All other Colorado CLE requirements remain the same. All Colorado attorneys must take 45 hours of continuing legal education during their respective 3-year reporting periods. Seven (7) of these credits must be dedicated to professional responsibility.

Don’t know when your reporting period starts?

In Colorado, every attorney’s reporting period starts the year they’re admitted to practice law in Colorado. So, for example, if you were admitted to practice in July 2020, your reporting period will end on December 31, 2023. After your first reporting period ends, your subsequent reporting period will always begin on the first of the year.

Do You Need EDI Credits?

We are committed to offering this important training for Colorado attorneys in our future programming. Colorado attorneys will be able to explore courses that meet this new requirement from our course catalog when available. We currently offer a wide variety of elimination of bias and diversity courses that fulfill specialty credit requirements in different jurisdictions across the nation.

Visit our Colorado CLE requirements page for more information.

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