Employment Discrimination in the Legal Profession: A Question of Ethics?

In recent years, the ABA and local bar leaders have taken numerous steps to raise awareness about the need to increase diversity within the legal profession. In order to increase diversity, however, the legal profession must also seek to eliminate unlawful employment discrimination. In most workplaces, an employer’s main concern with respect to discrimination is the possibility of a civil suit. In a surprising number of states, however, rules of professional conduct either explicitly prohibit employment discrimination on the part of lawyers or could be easily read to do so. Amending the rules of professional conduct in this manner is unlikely to have much of an impact when addressing employment discrimination and increasing diversity in the legal profession. These kinds of rules may, however, serve additional purposes that make their adoption worth considering.

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