ABA: Calling an attorney ‘honey’ now considered professional misconduct

Harassment and discrimination while practicing the law constitutes professional misconduct, the American Bar Association (ABA) has voted in an ethics resolution aimed at condescending language and sexual harassment encountered by female attorneys, in particular. Yet the guidelines have raised opposition from some who fear that the rules will impair not only lawyers’ freedom of speech, but their ability to represent their clients.

According to the new rules, lawyers could face discipline for any actions or comments based on race, religion, sex, or disability that they should reasonably know constitute harassment. Nearly half of states as well as the District of Columbia already have similar rules, but before resolution 109 passed in the ABA House of Delegates, there was no national standard preventing harassment.

“The states have not waited for the A.B.A. to act. They have been laboratories of change,” Myles V. Lynk, a law professor at Arizona State University who leads the association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, said at a debate during the annual ABA meeting, according to The New York Times. “It is time for the A.B.A. to catch up.” READ MORE.