A New Way to CLE

DEI TED-Style Panels

Spencer Rubin
Creating a CLE focused on diversity, equality, and inclusion is relatively straightforward.

Creating a CLE focused on diversity, equality, and inclusion is relatively straightforward.

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As the national legal community seeks to address the myriad of racial justice issues and broader issues of equality and inclusion in our personal and professional lives, lawyers should consider a new way to host CLEs, addressing those issues: through the art of storytelling. By having attorneys share their experiences of overcoming adversity and thriving in the legal profession, these stories act as educational anecdotes about how to confront racism and create permanent spaces of equality for historically underrepresented and minority lawyers.

Creating a CLE focused on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) is relatively straightforward.

Obtaining Approval for CLE Credit

Attorneys need more educational content to address topics related to fostering DEI in our profession. Many states’ offices of attorney regulation either require that each attorney complete a certain number of anti-bias or anti-discrimination CLEs each year or permit general credit certification for CLEs related to the topic of DEI in the profession. If your state expressly requires or permits those CLEs, then applying for certification will be easy. Even if your state does not explicitly require those CLEs, you may be able to receive accreditation for anti-bias, anti-discrimination, or DEI CLEs by categorizing them as related to professionalism.

Formatting the CLE Program

After obtaining CLE certification for a DEI CLE, consider formatting the CLE to showcase the individual panelists by asking them to tell their personal stories about their life experiences rather than having a group Q&A session with all of the panelists. In the latter format, panelists tend to talk over one another and try to make their points on top of one another without letting the audience absorb thematic or “big-picture” moments. Formatting a DEI CLE through the storytelling method enables each panelist to speak for 15–30 minutes about relevant experiences in their lives. Panelists will have greater success at landing important takeaway lessons with participants, helping them grow their understanding of the topic. Consider having panelists achieve proficiency in this storytelling method through TED training or watching TED Talks that highlight the exempt method of speaking.

Selecting Panelists

Select panelists that represent a broad array of backgrounds. This may seem like a daunting task depending on the demographics of your network contacts, the employees in your workplace, or the legal community in your state. Nonetheless, your friends or your friends’ friends know attorneys from diverse backgrounds, including historically underrepresented or minority backgrounds. By casting a wide net when scouting for panelists, you will find great speakers from various sections of our profession (and you may even make some friends in the process!).

Spencer Rubin


Spencer Rubin is an associate at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP in Boulder, Colorado. He is also the chair-elect for the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, a member of the Denver LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities, and a member of the ABA YLD’s Resolutions and National Conference Teams.