It Is Officially Unacceptable for Man Lawyers to Call Lady Lawyers "Honey" in Court

Source: AP
Source: AP

Finally, in the year 2016, the American Bar Association has voted that it is professional misconduct to call women "honey" and "darling" in court, the New York Times reported. 

To do so is both condescending and unprofessional, yes, but according to the ABA, it's also discriminatory. The new ethical guidelines ban "comments or actions that single out someone on the basis of race, religion, sex, disability and other factors," the New York Times reported. 

"An ethical rule makes us accountable," Drucilla S. Ramey, a former executive director of the San Francisco Bar Association, previously told the New York Times. "Lawyers are officers of the court. We're supposed to set a standard of conduct and that's a privilege."

Which is to say: Men —

Source: Giphy

Courts had previously blocked the use of sexist language on a state-by-state basis — this is the first nation-wide proscription upon belittling behavior, which would subject offending attorneys to fines or suspensions, as decided by their state bar association. 

But, because certain lawyers predictably kicked up a "free speech" fuss, there are a few caveats: wielders of the word "honey" and similar monikers will only be punished if the lawyer "knows or reasonably should know it is harassment or discrimination," according to the New York Times, and if the use of such language does not qualify as "'legitimate' legal advice or advocacy." 

Source: Giphy

That's likely vague enough to be exploited as a loophole, but the new rules specify scenarios in which calling the prosecution "darling" would be highly inappropriate. 

It may seem like a small step — one the ABA shouldn't even have to take, because calling one's colleague "honey" clearly toes the sexual harassment line — but according to the Times, women practicing law face dismissive, gendered language as a matter of course in the courtroom. At least now man lawyers can't plead ignorance when it comes to rude behavior. 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.