Hey “Darling,” There’s No More “Honey” In The Courtroom

The American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates passed Resolution 109, which states that it is a violation of professional responsibility to discriminate or harass in conduct related to the practice of law.

So, the use of “honey,” “darling,” and other remarks and gestures is now considered professional misconduct.

Although the discussion focused mainly on harassment and discrimination of women, the Resolution amends Model Rule 8.4 so that it now prohibits conduct that an attorney knows or should reasonably know is harassment or discrimination 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.

Proponents of the Resolution assert that without an overt prohibition on this type of conduct, the use of demeaning and misogynistic terms and actions to undermine opposing counsel and others will continue without repercussion.

However, whether this Resolution and amendment to Model Rule 8.4 will have the desired effect remains to be seen as it is within the province of each state bar to determine whether to adopt the amendment and if adopted, how to enforce it.

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