Monday, August 01, 2016

ABA To Vote On Anti-Discrimination Professional Conduct Rule

At the American Bar Association Annual Meeting which begins this Thursday in San Francisco, the House of Delegates will vote on an amendment to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4 (full text of amended Rule and Comment) which will make it professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(g) harass or discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. This Rule does not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline, or withdraw from a representation in accordance with Rule 1.16.
The amendment replaces a current comment the merely bars bias prejudicial to the administration of justice in representing clients. The new proposal apparently has some opposition.  In a piece published today in the conservative American Thinker, a former Regent Law School Dean and a former Reagan Administration official argue among other things:
Statutes accommodating religious conscience abound at both the state and federal level.  Law schools with an overtly religious mission, including the hiring, faculty, and admission of students, enjoy ABA accreditation.  Nationwide, lawyers and law firms hold themselves out to the public as Christians, letting the community know that they are dedicated to practicing law in accordance with ethical rules of their personal faith.  Why should such law firms be barred from hiring lawyers which share the same religious convictions?  Indeed, the Holy Scriptures counsel believers not to become "unequally yoked" with nonbelievers.  2 Corinthians 6:14.  Are Christian lawyers to be barred by ethics rules from obeying Biblical statutes?  Why should lawyers not be free to hire and fire staff on the basis of fidelity to their shared moral code? ... Why should a lawyer be penalized if he candidly advises potential clients what that code is?...