NC State Bar Panel Backs Anti-Bias Language

Some North Carolina attorneys want colleagues to keep personal biases out of their practice, even if they don't care for a client's sexual orientation.

The ethics committee of the North Carolina State Bar voted Thursday in favor of changing the preamble of their rules of professional conduct to add language stating lawyers shouldn't discriminate while working.

The provision contains a list of characteristics that shouldn't lead to bias. A person's "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are included.

Opponents say the change could prevent them from refusing to represent gays and lesbians on moral or religious grounds, but supporters say the language is a standard attorneys should aim for and cannot be used to punish a lawyer.

The change could receive final Bar approval by Friday.