Deadlines rule lawyers’ schedules whether they like it or not. For Illinois lawyers (last name N-Z) there is an important deadline coming up on June 30, 2019. The upcoming deadline is to report compliance with the 2017-2019 MCLE reporting period. No pressure, but there is under a month to go!
Hopefully, this deadline and the MCLE requirements are not a surprise to you. As a quick refresher, the Illinois MCLE requirement is 30 hours of credit, including at least six hours of professional responsibility (PR) credit (in the areas of professionalism, civility, ethics, diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse). Of the six hours of PR credit, one hour needs to be diversity/inclusion and one hour must be substance abuse/mental health.
The diversity/inclusion and mental health/substance abuse requirements are new as of July 1, 2017. Therefore, this June 30, 2019 reporting period is the first one where licensed Illinois attorneys will need to report compliance with the new requirements.
New Professional Responsibility Credit
If you are wondering why the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism (Commission) would ask the Illinois Supreme Court (Court) to make this change to 794(d), the answer is simple. The legal profession has a diversity and mental health and substance abuse problem that must be addressed. Women and minorities continue to only make small gains in their representation among big firm partners. In addition, a 2016 study found that between 21 and 36 percent of lawyers qualify as problem drinkers and approximately 28 percent, 19 percent, and 23 percent of lawyers are struggling with some level of depression, anxiety, and stress respectively.
Yet, even with these statistics, over 10 years of data collected by the Commission found that there were few CLE courses being offered that focused on diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse. Instead, most of the PR CLE offerings were in professionalism and civility. The Court recognized the dissonance between the problems in the legal profession and the low number of course offerings and therefore amended 794(d) to include the one hour of diversity and inclusion and one hour of mental health and substance abuse requirements.
This new required deadline has had a major impact on the number of course offerings. Since the new rule went into effect on July 1, 2017, over 1,600 diversity and inclusion courses and almost 1,200 mental health and substance abuse courses have been provided to Illinois lawyers.
Ways to Still Meet the Deadline
Although the clock is ticking, take a deep breath, it’s not too late to meet the new diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse requirements by the June 30th deadline. And, if your last name is A-M, you can get a head start on you 6/30/2020 deadline! Here is a list of available courses that can help you meet the deadline:
Whatever courses you take to meet the deadline, we hope they provided you with some good takeaways and caused you to think differently about diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse in the legal profession. Share what you learned in the comments below.