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What are the California MCLE Requirements for Elimination of bias, Implicit Bias and the Promotion of Bias-reducing Strategies?

Up until recently, the California State Bar only required a single hour of "Elimination of Bias" approved California MCLE courses per reporting period. Starting in 2023 they now require two hours. One of these hours is mandated be specifically about "Implicit Bias" and "promotion of bias-reducing strategies".

What exactly are these new categories? Let us take a deeper look at this issue so we can better understand this California MCLE requirement.

What Exactly Is Bias?

California MCLE requirements requite a course on bias, what is the technical definition of bias?

Bias is a disproportionately weighted factor when engaging in thoughts or behavior in relation to an idea or thing. This is usually in a manner that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be either innate or learned through operant or classical conditioning.

People often develop biases for or against individuals, groups, or even concepts. In science, a bias is considered a systematic error. Statistical bias can result from an unfair sampling of a population, or from an estimation process that does not give accurate reporting of an average.

What is Implicit Bias?

California MCLE requirements requite a course on implicit bias, what is the technical definition of implicit bias?

Implicit bias is a specific form of bias that happens automatically, subconsciously, and unintentionally. It nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors towards individuals or groups. Research has shown implicit bias can pose a barrier to recruiting and retaining a diverse legal workforce and can influence relationships with clients and peers in the legal community.

Specific targets of Implicit Bias can include race, age, gender and sexual orientation. It is important that a California MCLE course covers these topics.

Implicit Bias-reducing Strategies

California MCLE requirements requite a course on reducing bias, what is it that they are actually looking for?

There are various ways that one can develop a strategy to combat implicit bias. California MCLE bias-reducing strategy courses might use and or all of the following approaches:

- Learn what unconscious biases are.
- Acknowledge that everyone has implicit biases.
- Assess which biases are most likely to affect your views of other people.
- Determine how biases are likely to affect your practice or your clients.
- Learn to identify specific types of implicit biases.
- Learn to put yourself in other people?s shoes.

It is very important to learn to identify biases and learn how to reduce their effect in your law practice. This is a very important California MCLE requirement.

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