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N.M. Adopts Anti-Bias Rule Based on Controversial ABA Standard

Oct. 18, 2019, 7:13 PM

New Mexico became the second state to fully adopt the American Bar Association’s controversial revised rule on lawyer misconduct that includes a section prohibiting harassment and discrimination.

Vermont became the first state to adopt the rule in 2017, and Maine, Missouri, and Colorado amended their rules to embrace a version of the ABA standard. At least 20 states have anti-discrimination rules in place.

Amended ABA Rule 8.4(g) was passed in 2016, and prohibits harassment and discrimination based on factors including race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic status.

The comments section defines harassment as “derogatory and demeaning” conduct, which is the focus of the controversy.

Critics of the rule say this definition could chill speech. Its supporters say the First Amendment doesn’t doesn’t entitle lawyers to make racist or homophobic statements.

New Mexico’s rule goes into effect Dec. 1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at mstanzione@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com