The American Bar Association voted on Monday to
To address objections by litigators who argued that the change could hinder vigorous representation of clients, the drafters added qualifiers. The amended ethics rule now bans the offensive conduct only if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know it is harassment or discrimination, and does not apply to “legitimate” legal advice or advocacy. That gives offenders some wiggle room to contend that they did not know their conduct or remarks were prohibited.
The guidance that comes with the rule, however, defines discrimination as “harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice toward others.”
Penalties for harassment will be determined by state bar associations.