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The ABA Decision to Control What Lawyers Say: Supporting “Diversity” But Not Diversity of Thought

At its August 2016 annual convention, the American Bar Association approved a significant change in its Rule 8.4(g) that will affect all lawyers. Shortly before that, in June, the ABA Board of Governors had approved a major change regulating ABA-sponsored Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs. The ABA has announced that lawyers may not engage in “verbal conduct” that “manifests bias” concerning a litany of protected categories, and in June, the Board of Governors announced that it would not sponsor any CLE program unless the panel has the proper proportion of women, gays, transgender individuals, and so forth. The ABA sponsors a number of CLE programs, and most states require lawyers to participate for a certain number of hours each year as a condition of keeping their licenses to practice law. These changes show that the ABA is very much concerned with what lawyers say and who teaches them. The only thing that does not concern the ABA is diversity of thought.

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