CLE Professionalism Guidelines
Professionalism is the pursuit and practice of the highest ideals and tenets of the legal profession. It embraces far more than simply complying with the minimal standards of professional conduct. The essential ingredients of professionalism are character, competence, civility, and commitment” — The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism
As lawyers we have a moral and ethical obligation to conduct ourselves professionally in the practice of law to best serve the needs of our clients, our justice system, the legal community, and the public. Professionalism is an expectation in Florida and all lawyers are expected to practice with professionalism:
The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar 6-10.3 (b) requires that:
“Each member must complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of approved continuing legal education activity every 3 years. At least 5 of the 33 credit hours must be in approved legal ethics, professionalism, bias elimination, substance abuse, or mental illness awareness programs, with at least 1 of the 5 hours in an approved professionalism program, and at least 3 of the 33 credit hours must be in approved technology programs.”
The following professionalism guidelines are designed to provide CLE educators with clear goals and an understanding of the purpose of the professionalism requirement to achieve the desired outcomes from the training experience. When these guidelines are utilized in the design and implementation of continuing legal education programs, a forum will have been created whereby lawyers, judges, and law students can explore the meaning and practical application of professionalism.
General Goals and Guidelines
The general goal of the professionalism CLE requirement is to create an interactive forum in which lawyers, judges, and law students can explore and reflect upon the meaning and application of professionalism in the daily practice of law. CLE providers should strive to incorporate activities that:
- Foster introspection and reflection.
- Engage participants in discussions about issues such that attorneys can internalize and apply the material learned.
- Provide opportunities to practice how one will confront or diffuse an unprofessional situation.
- Participate in role playing to explore options and develop a personal strategy plan.
- Offer practice oriented or experiential training that stimulates problem solving exercises.
These learning techniques support the goal of gaining new perspectives about how and why we need to act professionally. Professionalism discussions are too often framed as simple issues of rule-following or rule-violation. But the real issue facing lawyers as professionals is developing the capacity for critical and reflective judgment about one’s intended conduct. The CLE session should endeavor to cultivate reflective judgment about the practice of law and to assess how well one’s conduct is serving the lawyer, the legal profession and the justice system.
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” — Confucius, Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC – 479 BC)
It is strongly recommended that Florida cases, rules and standards be integrated into presentations, especially in circumstances where Florida differs or expands upon the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Sources of potential topics and issues appropriate for discussion at professionalism CLE courses can be found in the Center’s newsletter, The Professional, disciplinary cases, documents such as, In re: Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints (SC 13-688), Professionalism Expectations adopted by The Florida Bar Board of Governors, the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar, the Florida Bar Creed of Professionalism, the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and the Guidelines for Professional Conduct.