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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?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. 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?

  2. 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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  3. 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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