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Supreme Court taking comments on new CLE rule

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The Supreme Court acted on its own motion April 15 regarding a recently adopted Business Law Section policy that “imposes quotas requiring a minimum number of ‘diverse’ faculty, depending on the number of faculty teaching the course.” Because it was not previously published for comment, the court gave interested persons until June 29 to comment on the rule change. (See notice here).

The court acted in In re: Amendment to Rule Regulating The Florida Bar 6-10.3, Case No. SC21-284.

The order prohibits The Florida Bar from approving continuing legal education programs from sponsors that use “quotas based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in the selection of course faculty or participants.”

While the Supreme Court said it understood the objectives underlying the Business Law Section’s policy, it held that the policy was inconsistent with established law on discrimination, citing past U.S. Supreme Court decisions. (See Bar News story here.)

“Quotas based on characteristics like the ones in this policy are antithetical to basic American principles of nondiscrimination,” the court said. “It is essential that The Florida Bar withhold its approval from continuing legal education programs that are tainted by such discrimination.”

The court added language to Rule 6-10.3 which says: “The board of legal specialization and education may not approve any course submitted by a sponsor, including a section of The Florida Bar, that uses quotas based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in the selection of course faculty or participants.”

Because the ABA’s CLE Diversity and Inclusion Policy is very similar to the Business Law Section policy, the ABA’s CLE programs are now ineligible for Florida CLE credit, according to Terry Hill, director of programs for The Florida Bar.

Hill said the Bar is also now prohibited from awarding credit to Florida attorneys who self-apply for CLE credit for ABA programs, including speakers.

ABA programs approved by The Florida Bar prior to the April 15 order remain approved for Florida credit.

The Business Law Section withdrew its policy after the court’s order was released.

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