As lawyers, we are ethically required to work to improve the law, access to the legal system and the administration of justice. Many would argue that the impact of race is one of the most pressing issues our legal system faces. At the same time, it’s hard to address issues of race because they are so complex, include elements of unconscious bias, and often invoke intense feelings (overwhelm, anger, shame, guilt, and/or helplessness). The difficulties can prevent us from fulfilling our ethical and even moral obligation to act.

This 3.5 credit CLE (2.5 elimination of bias credits for the in-person seminar and 1.0 on-demand credit beforehand) reviews some tools that can help us meaningfully engage, including:
– Overview of unconscious bias (UB), especially affinity and confirmation biases
– General strategies to identify our UB
– General strategies to interrupt our UB so we may act consistent with our values
– Application of these strategies to UB as it relates to race
– How to understand and navigate emotions
– The need to gain knowledge about racism
– The importance of self empathy and empathy for the other
– Suggestions/reminders for listening and speaking effectively

Participants will be better equipped to have meaningful conversations with clients and colleagues about race and racism in the legal system and better able to fulfill attorney ethical responsibilities.

Location: Hennepin County Bar Association Office: 600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 390, Minneapolis, MN

Pre-Work: This CLE includes the following pre-work:

Please read: For the purposes of discussion, this CLE will assume (and not be discussing) the following about race and racism: People of color do not have equal access to justice or resources. All human beings have some unconscious bias. Unconscious racial bias is a natural consequence of growing up in this society. (We didn’t ask to have it!) While racism today isn’t our fault, it is a pressing human rights issue that we have an ethical and moral obligation to address. Because the legal system is how people access the protection of the laws, we lawyers have an even greater duty to understand and interrupt our implicit bias, including around race, and to address institutional racism.

The below are additional resources for continued learning (not specifically a part of the CLE):


  • Any workshops put on by ASDIC Metamorphasis, especially their 10-week facilitated Circle series: ASDIC Circles are designed to provide you with an in-depth experience to better understand the ways race and racism operate in all of our lives. They will give you greater clarity of thinking, strength of relationship, and effectiveness of action in addressing systemic racism.

Online (free) videos:

  • Cracking the Codes excerpts (58 minutes), with commentary by filmmaker Shakti Butler
  • 13th (on streaming Netflix, 100 minutes): How people, mainly with a profit motive, have intentionally created policies and procedures to continue to deprive men of color, in particular, of freedom and voting rights.

Other videos:


Resources especially for people who are white (from Robin DiAngelo’s website)


  • Sleight of Mouth (Doug O’Brien)
  • A Good Time for the Truth
  • White Like Me
  • Between the World and Me
  • anything by bell hooks
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • The White Racial Frame
  • Race Matters
  • The Warmth of Other Suns
  • mystery books by Walter Moseley

Upcoming CLEs: Racism and Islamophobia in Ourselves and the Legal System (two nine-hour interactive CLEs)

A tool for addressing race-related statements, Sleight of Mouth** is a persuasion skill, a vehicle for the re-framing of beliefs. It is a system of 14 different patterns of response to a stated belief. A system that, once mastered, can allow you to always have a response that will effectively elucidate your position and help you to persuade rather than be persuaded. Simply put, it will help you win any argument, be verbally powerful and powerfully verbal.)