What qualifications does a speaker need to teach expanded CLE courses involving subjects other than law and lawyering skills?

Supreme Court Rule(s) cited in FAQ: Rule 795.

Expanded CLE courses involve courses such as technology, medical, accounting, tax, sexual harassment prevention training, law practice management, business development, marketing, and social media. The individual or group teaching an expanded CLE course must be qualified by practical or academic experience. Rule 795(a)(4). In expanded CLE courses, at least one faculty member must be qualified to (1) teach the expanded CLE topic and (2) relate that topic to attorneys, the practice of law, or the legal profession in general. Rule 795(a)(2) and (4). 

Whether an attorney or non-attorney is teaching, the provider must establish both requirements to teach the course by submitting brief biographical information with the accreditation application.  When the speaker is an attorney, the attorney’s bio needs to demonstrate academic or practical experience with the course content. As an attorney, the Board presumes that the speaker is qualified to relate the content to attorneys.  

When a nonlawyer is teaching, the bio must show that the speaker has sufficient practical or academic experience to teach the course’s subject matter and relate that subject matter to lawyers, the practice of law, or the legal profession. A nonlawyer typically gains practical experience by working with lawyers or working in the legal profession. By itself, prior experience teaching CLE does not demonstrate sufficient academic or practical experience to relate the course’s subject matter to attorneys. To show sufficient academic or practical experience, a provider may choose to include an attorney as another speaker or may identify a specific attorney as being available for questions during or after the course.

For example, a physician with experience as an expert witness may teach lawyers about cross-examining medical expert witnesses. A person who has set up law firm websites and is aware that ethical considerations play a role in law firm websites might teach attorneys how to establish a presence on social media. A person who has worked with attorneys as an accident reconstruction expert may teach attorneys about determining a vehicle’s speed by the length of skid marks. In each of these situations, the nonlawyer’s bio must describe the speaker’s experience working with attorneys, in the practice of law, or in the legal profession. That experience gives the speaker sufficient knowledge to relate the expanded CLE topic to the lawyers in the audience.

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