Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

When people think of lawyers, many adjectives come to mind.  Yet, "sexy" isn't usually one of them (unless they've just attended one of my CLE seminars).  However, unlike most people with 20/20 vision, the various state bars don't underestimate our attractiveness.  In fact, most states have rules that prohibit lawyers from entering into intimate relationships with their clients.  Apparently, laypeople are powerless against our good looks, wit and persuasiveness and therefore, they must be protected from our sexiness.

How else would you explain California Rule 3-120(B), which reads (and no, I'm not making this up):

A member shall not:

(1) Require or demand sexual relations with a client incident to or as a condition of any professional representation; or

(2) Employ coercion, intimidation, or undue influence in entering into sexual relations with a client; or

(3) Continue representation of a client with whom the member has sexual relations if such sexual relations cause the member to perform legal services incompetently in violation of rule 3-110.

The lawyer envisioned by the rule must be sexy beyond belief!  After all, are you good enough at your job to "require or demand" sex as a condition to hiring you?  I continually work on my craft and I haven't come close to the skill level where I can demand sex in exchange for my services as a speaker.  I just can't imagine saying to an event organizer, "Well, yes, I'm available on the date of your event.  However, in addition to paying my fee and travel costs, someone on your staff is going to have to sleep with me.  Can you make sure that she's a brunette and between 5'8 and 5'10?"  However, I guess I now have something to shoot for, don't I?

Of course, you may be thinking that this type of rule makes sense in a place where people have year-round tans.  Maybe so, but how do you explain Utah Rule 1.8, which reads:

(j) A lawyer shall not engage in sexual relations with a client that exploit the lawyer-client relationship. For the purposes of this Rule:

(j)(2) ... sexual relations between the lawyer and the client shall be presumed to be exploitive. This presumption is rebuttable.

Rebuttable how?  Perhaps, it works like this:

Lawyer: "You know, I've never felt like this about any client before."

Client: "I know, I feel the same way."

Lawyer: "I'd like to take our relationship to the next level."

Client: "Me too!"

Lawyer: "Well, before we do, I need you to sign this waiver in triplicate.  I have a notary public waiting back at the motel."

Client: "Oh, you are so romantic!  Kiss me!"

And if you think that our sex appeal is limited to clients, think again.  Apparently, client spouses are equally powerless; at least as evidenced by a peculiar case involving a Mississippi lawyer who has been ordered to pay $1.5 million for sleeping with his client's wife.  In perhaps, the quote of the century, the amorous lawyer explained that he wasn't surprised by the verdict.  "I knew I was going to get screwed," he said.

Turnabout is truly fair play, I guess.

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