The rule applies in and outside of the courtroom.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has amended their ethics code that bans lawyers from using sexist remarks towards women after female lawyers have complained of others calling them “honey” or “darling.” The new rule says:
“It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination” on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors, the new guidance reads. “Harassment includes sexual harassment and derogatory or demeaning verbal or physical conduct.”
The rule applies outside the courtroom as well. It includes “interacting with witnesses, co-workers, court personnel, lawyers and others” and “managing a law practice or law firm” or “participating in bar association, business or social activities in connection with the practice of law.”
Res 109 Adopted: Amends Rule 8.4 of Model Rules, adds anti-discrimination, anti-harassment provision. #ABAAnnual
— American Bar Association (@ABAesq) August 8, 2016
The House of Delegates adopted the new rule in San Francisco this week.
State bars and the District of Columbia already have similar rules, but not a “national rule until this week.” From The New York Times:
Myles V. Lynk, a law professor from Arizona who leads the association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which pushed for the change, said during the debate at the annual meeting that the American Bar Association needed “to catch up” with the states, which had already adopted such a prohibition.
“The states have not waited for the A.B.A. to act. They have been laboratories of change,” Mr. Lynk said. “It is time for the A.B.A. to catch up.”
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