08/16/16 – New ABA Rule

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Some Supreme Court cases began when a lawyer took on client with a minority viewpoint. Brown versus Board of Education is an example. But this may be a thing of the past.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Last week, the American Bar Association adopted a new rule of conduct. It’s urging state bar associations to adopt the same rule. It’s political correctness gone wild. Any lawyer violating the rule may lose his law license.

The ABA claims the rule bans harassment and discrimination in the legal profession. But existing federal and state laws already do this.

The new rule goes further. Much further. A lawyer can be disbarred for any action that “manifests bias or prejudice.” It’s vague. And covers just about any activity. A law firm that hires only Stanford Law grads could be violating the socioeconomic status provision. An attorney may be out of a job for debating same-sex marriage in a legal seminar. Discussing immigration at a firm’s cocktail reception could run afoul of the national origin provision.

The rule may dissuade attorneys from representing clients whose views the ABA considers politically incorrect. Christian, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish clients could be the most at risk.

Even the ABA acknowledges the rule could be used “strategically against [certain] lawyers and law firms.”

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I’m Mark Hyman.