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Attorneys move to discipline for workplace bias

Disciplinary action against lawyers would be expanded to address “workplace bias” by licensees, under a draft proposal issued in December by the ethics committee for the American Bar Association.

The proposed amendments to Model Rule 8.4 would beef up a provision that was added as a comment in 1998. In that year, ABA House of Delegates agreed on a comment that it would be professional misconduct if a lawyer “knowingly manifests” bias or prejudice against “certain categories of persons… in the presence of a client.” But comments to the rules do not make discrimination or harassment a “direct violation of the Model Rules.”

The ethics committee states that the comment was included 18 years ago as a compromise, and the ABA has yet to address the issue of discrimination “squarely.”

Read the proposed amendments and memo here and here.