I'm in the middle of a long divorce, and on my third lawyer. Long story short, we got intimately involved. I still pay him regularly and he still does a great job for me. It was just a really emotional time for me, and he was there for me a lot, in a non-legal sense. I just fell really comfortable with him, and I'm very happy with our relationship. We're even planning a vacation after everything is final, and we're going to celebrate with my ex's money lol.
The one thing that struck me as strange is that he doesn't want to be too open about our relationship. It's almost like he wants to keep it a secret. When I asked him about it, he told me that it's unethical or against some code of professional conduct to have sex with a client. Is that true? Does anyone know if that's true or not? Also, has anyone else been through a similar experience? I'm curious to know how it was for you. Thank you!
Most Helpful Guy
Oh, it's "VERY" unethical.
Lawyers have a very intricate code of conduct, which may not make sense initially, but if you study the history and purpose behind it, you'll see that there's a method to all the madness.
First, once you're licensed to practice law, you wear your lawyer hat 24/7. If you're having sex with your wife, you're still a lawyer. If you're at a party with friend after work, you're still a lawyer. If you're a CPA or a real estate agent/broker, you're still wearing your lawyer hat. That means the code of professional conduct (both the ABA's model rules and your state's code) applies to you.
Second, what are some rules? Well, a lawyer cannot make "any false statement of fact" to anyone. Shocking, I know. A lawyer cannot present evidence or allow the testimony of a witness he called to come into evidence is he "knows" that the evidence or testimony is false (fabricated or perjury). If false evidence does come in, he's required to disclose the falsity of that evidence to the court. He also can't solicit clients. Ever wondered why your e-mail isn't full of "Need an Attorney?" spam e-mails? Ever wonder why you've never received a single phone call from a lawyer trying to solicit your business? Well, that's why. And among all these rules, there's the absolute rule of "no sex with a current client." (PERIOD)
You can have sex with a prospective client, you can have sex with a former client, but you just can't have sex with a current client. In fact, if you've had sex with a prospective client that's now a current client, you're generally required to withdraw from representing that client, because you can no longer be said to be capable of exercising independent professional judgment (the kind of judgment you have a duty to give to your client).
Sex with a client, especially within the context of a divorce, is automatic grounds for being disbarred. Your lawyer can lose his license to practice law. It's tantamount to taking money from a client's escrow account.
Why? What's the rationale behind the rule? The rationale is that we don't want lawyers to exploit emotionally vulnerable people at sensitive times in their life, and either coerce them into having sex in return for legal services (or by threatening to withdraw representation if they don't get sex), and we want to deter lawyers from being tempted by the easy opportunity to basically engage in prostitution (sex for legal services).
Even if that's not what's going on, the disciplinary committee doesn't care. Sex is sex. There's no "motive" or "intent" element written into the rule. You had sex with a current client? You violated the code of conduct. And it's a major violation. It goes strait to a lawyer's moral character and competency to practice law and represent clients adequately.
Notwithstanding how you both feel or what feelings developed, what he did is extremely unprofessional and unethical.2