AELE’s Certified Litigation Specialist program


AELE seminars provide credit toward the


    • Certified Litigation Specialist (CLS) designation for non-lawyers, or

    • Litigation Professional (LP) recognition for members of the bar


To earn the designation, a person must attend the qualifying seminars in a 50-month period, and satisfy supplemental reading requirements.  The designation is conferred at no additional cost to the applicant. The Jail Legal Issues Workshop and the Use of Force Workshops each count as two qualifying seminars.


What is AELE’s education-related history?


AELE was chartered as an educational organization in 1966 by four active or former professors – all of whom had law enforcement or prosecution experience. AELE is a research driven, not-for-profit Illinois corporation that provides seminars and monthly publications to criminal justice and public safety professionals. AELE does not engage in partisan political activities and is not a subsidiary or component of another entity.


AELE has published legal periodicals since 1973 and has sponsored nationally acclaimed legal seminars since 1974. The cumulative attendance is over 18,000.


AELE has an Academic Committee that sets the standards for the Certified Litigation Specialist designation and for recognition as a Litigation Professional. (Note 2)


Who can qualify as a Certified Litigation Specialist (or Litigation Professional)?


Non-lawyers can earn the Certified Litigation Specialist (CLS) designation by attending different qualifying seminars within the past 50 months and familiarizing yourself with two documents provided as “resource materials”.


Lawyers can qualify for recognition as a Litigation Professional by fulfilling the same requirements.


There are no other educational, occupational or experience requirements.


What are the categories for Certified Litigation Specialist (or Litigation Professional)?


There are three CLS categories: “Police/Law Enforcement” “Campus Law Enforcement” and “Corrections” litigation.  The seminars required for each of these categories are:

Police/Law Enforcement Litigation

1. Use of Force

2. Discipline & Internal Investigations

3. Sudden and In-Custody Death (offered by The Institute For The Prevention of In-Custody Deaths


4. Use of Force SummitSM (Offered by the Daigle Law Group LLC.


            Corrections Litigation

1.      Jail & Prisoner Legal Issues and

2.      Discipline & Internal Investigations


Campus Law Enforcement Litigation

1.      Campus Police Legal Forum (Stafford Assoc.)

2.      Use of Force (

3.      Discipline & Internal Investigations


Are there time limits to complete the qualifying seminars?


Yes. All qualifying seminars must be completed within a 50-month period.


How long is the designation valid?


The designation expires at the end of the 60th month from the date of the first qualifying seminar. 


Examples: If you attended the qualifying seminars, the first of which was in March 2010, the designation expired March 31, 2015. If the first seminar was attended in Dec. 2011, the designation expired Dec. 31, 2016.


How is a designation renewed?


A new or renewal application must be completed and faxed to AELE.  It must list at least the qualifying seminars during a 50-month period preceding the application 


What are the “additional resource materials” reading requirements?


Attendants are given a CD-ROM at each seminar or provided access to research studies and the documents.The Academic Committee has chosen two of these that merit close attention, and a CLS or LP recipient must indicate, in the application form, that he or she is generally familiar with the content of the selected documents. Each person’s knowledge of a subject is different, and the familiarization process could vary from a short period to several hours. The documents are (PDF format)


Principles for Promoting Police Integrity, U.S. Dept. of Justice

New Challenges for Law Enforcement Professional Standards Officers

  (Online article discusses training and policy failures).


Because these are “resource” materials, they do not have to be read like a novel. It is sufficient to page through the articles and documents with enough attention to remember the basic contents, in general terms. There is no test or qualifying examination.


Can I qualify in more than one category?


A person may qualify in two or three categories by taking the qualifying seminars in the last 50 months. A person could have different expiration dates for each category, depending on the sequence of the subjects.


What are the dates and places of qualifying seminars?


Dates and Places:

For dates and information on the qualifying AELE seminars click on the seminar information link in this web site.  For information on the other qualifying seminars go to or


What is the purpose of the Police Use of Force Law Instructor’s Guide?


CLS designees receive a CD which they can use as a resource or to build use of force lesson plans if they instruct on legal topics. This is an exclusive benefit, as the Guide is not available to instructors that have not earned the CLS designation. Click here for additional information.


What is the cost for receiving the CLS designation (or LP recognition)?


There is no fee to receive the CLS designation (or LP recognition).  The CLS application form (or LP recognition form) should be printed, completed and faxed to AELE. After an applicant’s attendance at the qualifying seminars has been verified, AELE will send a personalized, diploma-style document suitable for framing, imprinted with the person’s name, the category they have qualified in, and the dates of validity. If a person has qualified in multiple categories, the document will list the valid dates for each category.  A sample CLS certificate and LP recognition document are on the AELE website.


How can I identify myself as a Certified Litigation Specialist or a Litigation Professional?


In addition to receiving the diploma-style document, Certified Litigation Specialists will be sent a “Litigation Specialist” pin.

CLS Logo

The pin is ¾-inch diameter

You may also indicate your status on business cards, letterhead and elsewhere – while in good standing. Lawyers who are Litigation Professionals may indicate the status on their résumés, if consistent with state bar rules of professional conduct.


What are the benefits of becoming a Certified Litigation Specialist or a Litigation Professional?


AELE formally recognizes the fact that an individual has completed the (or more) qualifying seminars in the last 60 months and is familiar with additional resource materials.  It is not an endorsement and does not attest to a person’s occupational or professional abilities.  It is not a substitute for a degree or professional license, although attendance at the seminars may partially satisfy state-imposed in-service training or continuing education requirements. The designation is, and should be recognized as, a symbol of achievement.


Are there any discounts for repeating a seminar for CLS or LP credit?


Yes. A Certified Litigation Specialist or a Litigation Professional is entitled to a $100 tuition reduction on each qualifying course that is repeated to maintain their CLS or LP status.  That is in addition to the reduction offered to multiple attendants from the same agency, firm or other entity.  Additionally, if a seminar is full, AELE guarantees an opening if a CLS or LP attendant registers at least four weeks in advance.  This discount is only available to individuals who are repeating a seminar to maintain their CLS or LP status.


What happens after the designation expires and is not renewed?


You can state on your vita that you earned the designation, and the years of validity.  Because a person’s employment or occupational specialty might change, you might choose not to renew the designation by repeating the qualifying seminars.  That in no way detracts from the fact that you earned the designation during the period of validity.


What records are kept by AELE?


There is an archived, computer-based record of seminar attendance. A paper copy of a person’s CLS or LP achievement record is kept in an alphabetically sorted file folder, and another in a chronologically sorted folder.


Once I have attended the qualifying seminars, how do I apply?


On the AELE website, click on the link for the CLS (or LP) form.


What if I have more questions?


Contact the staff via e-mail at