Every lawyer gets emails from the Law Society: reminders to file reports, pay fees, or use assistance programs to cut back on the booze. But a recent message almost made me choke on my sandwich. “New obligations for 2017” was its subject line, “Actions you need to take.” All lawyers, it said, must prepare and submit a personal “Statement of Principles” attesting that we value and promote equality, diversity and inclusion. According to the advisory, “The intention of the statement of principles is to demonstrate a personal valuing of equality, diversity, and inclusion with respect to the employment of others, or in professional dealings with other licensees or any other person.”Cato scholar Walter Olson notes [January 28] that U.S. jurisdictions are not far behind. Model Rule 8.4(g), adopted by the American Bar Association, makes it "professional misconduct" to engage in conduct or "verbal conduct" that constitutes "harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic states in conduct related to the practice of law."
My first instinct was to check my passport. Was I still in Canada, or had someone whisked me away to North Korea, where people must say what officials want to hear?
[Bruce Pardy: Law society's new policy compels speech, crossing line that must not be crossed, National Post, October 3, 2017]
It's not a stretch to see how this would make Kyle Bristow's representation of Richard Spencer, even when successful, a violation of Rule 8.4(g). Or, say, a lawyer representing Thomas Kawcynski, the Maine town manager fired for white advocacy viewpoints.
Kawcynski, by the way, would have (had he not already settled) a fine federal complaint for the violation of his civil rights, as to both free speech and racial discrimination. As I see it, getting fired for racial advocacy speech or opinions is no different from being fired for your race, period. Which would mean that private employers, too, would be forbidden from such firings.
Imagine a black person being fired from a private company on grounds that he was a member of the NAACP and spoke at an NAACP meeting. When confronted, the company responds that it didn't fire him for being black—only for the NAACP involvement. How would that go over?