The American Bar Association (ABA) recently passed national standards that prohibit harassment of opposing counsel, witnesses, coworkers, court personnel, and others in the course of practicing law. Elizabeth Olson of the New York Times reports that according to the new standards, “harassment includes sexual harassment and derogatory or demeaning verbal or physical conduct” based on race, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or marital or economic status. In a separate article, Olson explains that harassment has long been intentionally used in the legal profession to intimidate or fluster opposing counsel and witnesses as well as to reinforce male-dominated attitudes in the legal profession. She reports that a recent ABA study found that “stereotypical sexist remarks to female lawyers contribute to their underrepresentation in the legal field.” The study also revealed these statistics:
- Only 18 percent of partners at top law firms are women.
- In civil cases, men are three times more likely than women to appear as lead counsel and trial attorneys.
- In criminal law, men are four times more likely to appear as trial attorneys.