On September 7, 2018, the Advisory Committee on Rules voted 12-3 to recommend that the NH Supreme Court amend Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 by adopting the following provision, according to the secretary of the committee, Carolyn Koegler, which would make it professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(g) engage in conduct while acting as a lawyer in any context that that the lawyer knew or reasonably should have known is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity. Statutory or regulatory exemptions, based upon the number of personnel in a law firm, shall not relieve a lawyer of the requirement to comply with this Rule. This paragraph shall not limit the ability of the lawyer to accept, decline, or withdraw from representation consistent with other Rules, nor does it infringe on any Constitutional right of a lawyer, including advocacy on matters of public policy, the exercise of religion, or a lawyer’s right to advocate for a client.”
The Committee also recommended that the Supreme Court hold a public hearing on the proposal; both recommendations were included in the committee’s report to the court on February 1, 2019. The public hearing will be held on Friday, April 12, 2019 at 10 a.m. at the NH Supreme Court.
The Advisory Committee on Rules’ report to the Supreme Court- February 8, 2019
Advisory Committee on Rules
To learn more about the committee, visit www.courts.state.nh.us/committees/adviscommrules/index.htm
Supreme Court’s Rule-Making Procedures
To learn more about Rule 51, visit https://www.courts.state.nh.us/rules/scr/scr-51.htm
ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4
New Hampshire Bar News Coverage & Dialogue
February 14, 2019
In October 2018, I read an article, “Sounding the Alarm on a Misguided Conduct Rule.” The author came out strongly to an amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4 forbidding any conduct that discriminates against protected classes. I disagreed with it at the time, but had a lot on my plate, and just didn’t have time to address the problem.
But there it was, gnawing in the back of my mind, the gadfly of a misguided opinion…
January 16, 2019
I write in support of the amendment to Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(g) now pending before our Supreme Court. Like virtually all of us, I am against harassment and discrimination. This is not a controversial position. Yet there are serious parties of all stripes that have voiced objections to amended Rule 8.4(g). Upon reviewing the arguments against the amendment, respectfully, I find them overstated.
Charla Bizios Stevens, Sabrina C. Beavens, Heather M. Bums, Joni N. Esperian, Lauren Simon Irwin, Linda S. Johnson, Katie Kieman Marble, Terri L. Pastori and Connie Rakowsky
December 10, 2018
Proposed Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(g) is a reasonable and appropriate way to address the problem of harassment and discrimination in our profession, a problem which continues to exist despite state and federal anti-discrimination laws which have been on the books in New Hampshire for over 100 years and for 50 years at the federal level.
Sara B. Shirley
November 1, 2018
To the Editor of NH Bar News:
Maureen D. Smith, Orr & Reno, P.A., Peter F. Imse, Sulloway & Hollis, Rolf Goodwin, McLane Middleton and James Allmendinger, Law Offices of James F. Allmendinger, are long-standing members of the NHBA Standing Committee on Ethics and members of the Committee’s Rule 8.4(g) Subcommittee.
We want to correct some of the misunderstandings raised in a letter published in the October 17, 2018 Bar News about the proposed ethics rule on harassment and discrimination currently before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Rather than “Sounding the Alarm on a Misguided Conduct Rule,” we, the members of the Rule 8.4(g) Subcommittee of the Bar’s Standing Committee on Ethics, write to explain the facts on the real purpose, scope and effect of the proposed rule.
Christina Ferrari, NH Women’s Bar Association
September 19, 2018
The New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association (NHWBA) strongly supports the adoption of Proposed Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(g), which the New Hampshire Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules recently recommended after a 12-3 vote.
Eugene Van Loan
September 19, 2018
The NH Bar Ethics Committee and the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Rules have recently been considering a proposal to add a provision to our Rules of Professional Conduct which would punish lawyers who engage in “harassment” or “discrimination.” The impetus for the proposed rule is a recent amendment by the American Bar Association to its Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. Because the deliberations surrounding this issue have pretty much been conducted under the radar of most NH Bar members, it is time to sound the alarm about this misguided proposal.
June 20, 2018
April 19, 2017