Colorado Supreme Court

Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.

Sexual Harassment and the Rules of Professional Conduct

Attorney Regulation Counsel


The Colorado Supreme Court has proposed an amendment to Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 to add a new subsection (i), along with a new comment, to specifically address sexual harassment that occurs in connection with a lawyer's professional activities. The Supreme Court is currently accepting comments from lawyers and the public.  One question that many people ask is “what do the Rules of Professional Conduct already say about sexual harassment”?  The answer is “not much.”

The Rules expressly provide that it is professional misconduct for lawyers to commit certain types of criminal acts (Colo. RPC 8.4(b)), but sexual harassment does not necessarily meet the elements of a crime.  The Rules also state that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in any conduct that directly, intentionally, and wrongfully harms others and that adversely reflects on a lawyer’s fitness to practice law.”  Colo. RPC 8.4(h).   But this Rule might allow for a lawyer to defend his or her conduct by claiming that the harm was unintentional.  Rule 8.4(g) bars certain discriminatory conduct in the representation of a client, but sexual harassment often does not fall within those parameters. 

The proposed rule and comment would make it much more clear to Colorado attorneys that sexual harassment may be grounds for disciplinary investigation and action by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel where the conduct occurs in connection with a lawyer’s professional activities. 

The text of the proposed rule amendment and comment can be found here: Rule 8.4. Misconduct.

Written comments should be submitted to Cheryl Stevens, Clerk of the Supreme Court. Comments may be mailed or delivered to 2 East 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203 or emailed to and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 15, 2019.  The Clerk will post written comments on the Court’s website after the comment period closes.