Josh Blackman spots an article in the ABA Journal proposing a new ABA Model Rule 8.5 that would declare it “a lawyer’s professional responsibility to promote equality in society generally, diversity in the legal profession specifically, and encourage lawyers to devote 20 hours annually to activities directed toward promoting diversity in the profession.” Blackman writes:
The [proposed] Rule adopts a specific philosophical viewpoint–promoting diversity and inclusion–and makes it the orthodoxy for attorneys. Under this proposed rule, those who do not adopt that philosophy will be violating a “duty” and “ethical obligation.” Those who choose not to attend certain CLE classes would now be disregarding an aspirational goal….
Not every attorney agrees that “every lawyer has a professional duty to undertake affirmative steps to remedy de facto and de jure discrimination, eliminate bias, and promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.” Far too many attorneys–especially academics–take this statement as an unassailable fact of life. It’s not.
Bar associations exist to promote and regulate the legal profession. They do not exist to promote specific ideologies.
Compare ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), which Blackman and many others have argued is a step toward an unconstitutional speech code for attorneys, and the mandatory statements of support for diversity, equity and inclusion in the University of California system and elsewhere in higher education.