Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn Bar Association will be ready for new requirements for diversity, inclusion and bias CLE

August 28, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Bar Association CLE Director Amber Evans is ready for new CLE requirements that will force experienced attorneys to attend biennial seminars on diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias beginning in July. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Bar Association is gearing up for another year of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars which will include, starting in July, a new requirement for a “Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias” (D&I) credit that the state implemented over the summer.

The New York State CLE Board announced the creation of the D&I category in July. It requires experienced attorneys who are due to re-register on or after July 1, 2018 to complete at least one credit hour in D&I. It does not change the biennial 24 credit requirement or lessen the requirement for at least four ethics credits.

“They have changed the requirement for experienced attorneys and it is mandatory,” said Amber Evans, CLE director at the Brooklyn Bar Association [BBA]. “They have to get one D&I credit every two years starting in July. We’ve already had people interested in putting on that course so people should definitely look forward to receiving that credit from the Brooklyn Bar Association.”

The state board put forth the definition of D&I as follows: “Programs and activities must relate to the practice of law and may include, among other things, implicit and explicit bias, equal access to justice, serving a diverse population, diversity and inclusion initiatives in the legal profession and sensitivity to cultural and other differences when interacting with members of the public, judges, jurors, litigants, attorneys and court personnel.”

Evans explained that BBA is preparing for D&I CLEs alongside a more ambitious CLE schedule for the 2017-18 year. After offering fewer courses in 2016-17, she would like to see BBA offering at least 30 CLE courses in the next year.

“In 2015, my first year here, we had almost 30 courses,” Evans said. “I’d like to get back to that number or higher because not only does that mean we’re going to have lots of quality courses, but it also increases the selection in our online, pre-recorded catalog too.”

In past years, BBA has usually left the request for CLE speakers and topics rather open ended, and up to members to suggest ideas. This year, Evans hopes to host CLEs on specific and relevant topics to the political world, and has already increased the number of immigration CLEs, for instance. She has also gone back as far as 2012 to see what the most popular CLEs have been and plans to update them for 2017.

“I’ve met with our committee and section chairs and will continue to meet with them to discuss what we want to put on,” Evan said. “There is a lot going on in the world and we want to be sure that we’re meeting the needs of people based upon real world issues that they are facing.

“It will be a nice mix of some new stuff and our older, more popular CLEs,” she continued. “We didn’t have as many last year, but we’ve set an ambitious goal and we’re working more closely with the committees to put on more CLE and relevant CLEs.”

The first CLE of the year, titled “Assisting the New York/Florida Snowbird Client,” will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and will be sponsored by the BBA Elder Law Committee. Committee Chair Anthony Lamberti, second vice president of BBA, and Vice Chair Fern Finkel, who also chairs the BBA Foundation Law Committee, will serve as the faculty alongside attorney Howard Krooks.

There are two other CLEs finalized in the schedule, including one that will be co-sponsored by the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers titled “Building Your House of Damages with Economic Experts,” which will be hosted by Glenn Verchick, Kris Kucsma and Edmond Provder on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The 2017 Annual Update, a daylong course worth eight credits, is also set for Friday, Nov. 3.


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