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Time To Stop Calling Women Lawyers “Honey”

The American Bar Association ("ABA") just recently brought its rules of professional conduct in line with Title VII; making discrimination and harassment a breach of professional responsibility and grounds for discipline. Discipline can include the loss of an attorney's license to practice law. Approximately two dozen state bars already have such rules in place, and state bars would be responsible for enforcing the ABA's new rule.

The ABA's new ethics rule provides that members may not "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." Many female attorneys have voiced complaints about misogyny on the job. Women are referred to as "honey" or "darling" in the courtroom as well as being subjected to sexist remarks. Men still hold the majority of management positions within law firms.

Critics of the new rule believe that these changes will have a "chilling effect on the ability of lawyers to engage in free speech, religious exercise and other First Amendment rights." The rule does contain an exemption for "legitimate advocacy that is material and relevant to factual or legal issues or arguments in a representation."