SUPPORTING AMENDMENT TO RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
TO PROHIBIT SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW

WHEREAS, the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Women in the Profession issued a Report to the House of Delegates, asking that the ABA recognize that sexual harassment is a serious problem in all types of workplace settings, including the legal profession, and constitutes a discriminatory and unprofessional practice that must not be tolerated in any work environment;

WHEREAS, on February 3, 1992, the ABA House of Delegates approved the Report of the Commission on Women in the Profession and resolved, among other things, to educate the profession about the scope and harm of sexual harassment in the workplace, and shall call upon members of the legal profession to provide leadership and education in eradicating sexual harassment;

WHEREAS, the Report of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession stated that [a] comprehensive 1990 ABA Young Lawyers Division survey [ABA Young Lawyers Division, The State of the Legal Profession at 65069 (1990)] on attorney satisfaction revealed that 85 percent of female lawyers had experienced or observed it least one form of sexual harassment during the previous two years, and [half of the women lawyers--46 percent--experienced or observed several different forms of sexual harassment during this period. The YLD survey also found that 78 percent of all male lawyers observed at least one form of sexual harassment within the past two years and 68 percent of male lawyers surveyed observed more than one form of sexual harassment during this same time period;

WHEREAS, the Gender Education Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association has concluded that education about gender fairness cannot completely eliminate the problem without an effective means by which an offender can be held accountable to the profession;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring gender fairness and eliminating sexual harassment in the profession, as evidenced by the appointment of the Task Force to Ensure Gender Fairness in the Courts;

WHEREAS, the ABA is currently considering an amendment to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct which would include sexual harassment as a form of professional misconduct;

WHEREAS, fourteen other states have amended their Rules of Professional Conduct to include sexual harassment as a form of professional misconduct;

WHEREAS, on May 3, 1996, the House of Delegates of the Pennsylvania Bar Association passed a resolution in support of amending the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct to include sexual harassment as a form of professional misconduct,a copy of which is attached hereto;

WHEREAS, the proposed amendment is also fully supported by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession and the Pennsylvania Bar Association/Conference of State Trial Judges Joint Task Force to Ensure Gender Fairness in the Courts;

WHEREAS, on October 10, 1996, James Mundy, President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, sent the attached amended Rule 8.4 to Chief Justice John P. Flaherty of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requesting that amended Rule 8.4 be adopted and this matter is currently pending before the Court;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to adopt the attached amendment to Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct which adds engaging in sexual harassment in the practice of law to the list of actions which constitute professional misconduct.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: February 27, 1997

 

Supporting Amendment to Rules of Professional Conduct
to Prohibit Sexual Harassment in the Practice of Law

Proposed Revision to Rule 8.4, Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) violate or attempt to violate the rules of professional conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so throngh the acts of another;

(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

(e) engage in sexual harassment in the practice of law;

(f) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; or

(g) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.

Please note--proposed new language indicated in bold italics.