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Client Lawyer Relationship and ethics....

Murrysville, PA |

Is there any type of law that prevents a lawyer from having a relationship with the client, such as taking the client and daughter to see disney on ice? It is not my lawyer, but my ex's lawyer and my ex. I can't prove it, but his lawyer pretty much works for free. Wouldn't that be unethical in ways?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Absolutely. My question, however, is the nature of your interest in the nature of the relationship, if any, between your ex and your ex's lawyer. Are you simply curious or is there something more to it?

Posted

A lawyer cannot solicit or demand sexual relationships with a client per Rule 1.8(j) of the Rules of Professional Conduct [I'm quoting the NY rules, but most state's are similar because they're based on the ABA model rules).

The rule specifically says:

(1) A lawyer shall not:
(i) as a condition ofentering into or continuing any professional representation by the
lawyer or thelawyer’s firm, require or demand sexual relations with any person;
(ii) employ coercion, intimidation or undue influence in entering into sexual relations
incident to any professional representation by the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm; or
(iii)in domestic relations matters, enter into sexual relations with a client during the
course of thelawyer’s representation of the client.
(2) Rule 1.8(j)(1)shall not apply to sexual relations between lawyers and their spouses or to ongoing consensual sexual relationships that predate the initiation of the client-lawyer relationship.

So...depending on the timing here...if there is no matrimonial case still pending, there might be nothing wrong with a personal relationship, especially one that does not necessarily involve sexual relationships...and there is nothing that prevents a lawyer to offering his services to a friend for free.

You can read sex into that if you want, but if there's no pending case, viewing this as unethical per the rules may be a stretch.

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Asker

Posted

because his attorney is making my life hell in a constant custody battle... and im trying to find ways to make him have to get a new atty. i want my daughter to be healthy and happy and they are turning her against me... its wrong and they know people... my daughter finally has a guardian et liem and they already refer to him as a dick instead of richard. im at a loss... and being pro se.... because 40 bucks an hr is too much doesnt help... so i look for your advice?

William A. Jones Jr.

William A. Jones Jr.

Posted

Let me say that I am not familiar with the Rules of Professional Conduct in NY. Pennsylvania is very explicit and definitive on this topic, Rule 1.8 (j) provides without equivocation as follows: "(j) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced." That's it no further discussion provided by our rules.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

Yeah, it's probably not a good idea to have a relationship with a matrimonial or family court client and be having anything to do with the ex or the children...doesn't pass the stink test...as far as the rules...outside of the matrimonial context, NY's seems to liberal and PA's seems too restrictive...my 0.02

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

If asker is suggesting that lawyer is having a relationship with her ex and also representing her ex in a custody proceeding "for free", yeah, I'd say that's a conflict of interest and you can probably make a motion that your ex find a different attorney, if that's going to be helpful to you. There are probably a lot of other variables in terms of how a custody determination is going to shake out, particularly if you are the custodial parent and ex is seeking to change that, but I can see how being unrepresented while having an annoying lawyer representing the other side is going to "rattle" you. You might want to try mediation or appeals to the Law Guardian and "working around" the lawyer's influence as well as trying to knock him out on a conflict basis...

Posted

Another contributor quoted a rule of professional responsibility. Good analysis in that answer. The problem with such contact, even if it is not prohibited, is that it blurs the line between attorney and client. This is a professional relationship. It's like a parent who wants a their child to be their best friend. See the problem? Now I've done nice things for my clients. I've given them tickets to events for example but becoming a good friend is only asking for trouble.
By the way, why are you asking? Why do you care? If an attorney wants to work for free, that's his/her problem.

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