Barclay Damon
Barclay Damon

No More 'Honeys' in Court

by: Elizabeth A. Holmes

 

On August 8, 2016 the ABA House of Delegates voted to adopt Resolution 109, which amends Rule 8.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (“Professional Misconduct”), to add an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment provision, which forbids comments or actions that single out someone on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender, identity, and marital or socioeceonomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. The amendment includes an open-ended definition of “practice of law,” which is defined as representing clients, interacting with witnesses, coworkers, court personnel, lawyers and others while engaged in the practice of law; operating or managing a law firm or law practice; and participating in bar association, business or social activities in connection with the practice of law.  Penalties would be determined by state bar associations and might include fines or suspension.  Critics voiced objection to the amendment as it would have a “chilling effect” on advocacy in the courtroom.  However, the rule includes qualifiers, and does not apply to legitimate legal advice or advocacy.  To read the resolution as adopted, click here.