Is it legal for an attorney to have a relationship with a client and represent them in their divorce? 59 Answers as of June 28, 2013

My spouse's lawyer is having an affair with my spouse.

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Evan Guthrie Law Firm
Evan Guthrie Law Firm | Evan Guthrie
As long as the relationship started before the legal representation.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 8/13/2012
Lombardi Law LLC
Lombardi Law LLC | SUZANNE LOMBARDI
In Alaska and in most states it is unethical for an attorney to have an affair with a client while they are representing them. The Alaska Bar Association should be contacted and a complaint filed against that attorney if the facts are as you represent them to be.
Answer Applies to: Alaska
Replied: 8/8/2012
Walpole Law | Robert J. Walpole
It is considered unethical behavior for a lawyer to have an affair with a client because the fact of the affair may affect how the attorney ought to represent the client and her best interests.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 8/7/2012
Law Office of James Bordonaro
Law Office of James Bordonaro | James Albert Bordonaro
It depends on the State where the attorney is licensed. In general, most states prohibit that type of relationship. It could be something to raise to the judge though.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 7/31/2012
Austin Hirschhorn, P.C.
Austin Hirschhorn, P.C. | Austin Hirschhorn
While there is nothing in the rules of professional conduct for lawyers that prohibits lawyers from having a social relationship with clients there are reported cases where lawyers that have had sexual relationships with clients have been suspended from practicing law when the client complained to the Attorney Grievance Commission because the lawyer-client relationship had broken down and the lawyer had permitted the relationship to interfere with his duties to the client. My own personal belief is that this should not occur and should not be condoned by the attorney licensing authorities. My own belief is that this sort of conduct is rarely reported and not publicized very often. If you feel that what is going on is in some way interfering with the normal processing of your case, I would suggest that you discuss this with your lawyer and see what he or she recommends.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/7/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    It is not ethical, and you can report to the State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    If you can prove the affair by means other than your suspicions, then no since he would potentially be a witness.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Christensen Corbett & Pankratz
    Christensen Corbett & Pankratz | Craig L. Pankratz
    No. That is unethical and should be reported to the State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Tilton Law Firm | Bradley W. Tilton II
    If her attorney had the relationship before the attorney client privilege was created, ie before a contract was signed, then technically that attorney has not violated the ethical rules in Texas. However there could be a conflict issue if you can make that attorney a fact witness in your case (in proving adultry).
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Bruning & Associates, PC
    Bruning & Associates, PC | Kevin Bruning
    The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits a lawyer from having sexual relations with the client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced. Therefore, unless you're spouse and his or her lawyer maintained a consensual sexual relationship before the client-lawyer relationship commenced, any current relationship of that nature is prohibited by the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 1.8.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
    Not illegal but sure is unethical!
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of Grady G Gauthier | Grady G Gauthier
    If the sexual relationship will interfere with the attorney's (who you have a sexual relationship with) ability to represent you then the attorney is violating state ethical rules and could be subject to sanctions or be stripped of his/her ability to practice law. However, if the sexual relationship has always been consensual and started prior to representation it may be allowed under state ethical rules for the attorney. Though, given the circumstances here it seems it would be hard for an attorney who is having sexual relations with the client he/she is representing in divorce proceedings to not violate ethical rules regarding conflict of interests with clients. Therefore I would strongly suggest you seek an impartial attorney with whom you have no past relations to represent you in your divorce proceedings.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    Although it may not be illegal, in most states it is unethical and the state bar ethics committee would investigate.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Attorney At Law | Harry D. Roth
    Call the State Bar. Big fat no-no.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    It is not illegal. It may not, be ethical, however.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    Contact the State Bar Association and file complaint. Better have proof, more than you just saying it, lawyer could sue you for libel if you don't have proof.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    As long as the relationship does not affect the representation, yes, they can have a relationship.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    That conduct may be deemed unethical.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    I have only read about this kind of evil in the cases and in the lawyer newspaper. There is a lot to talk about. There are a lot of things that you may be able to do with this.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    An affair with a client is an ethical issue.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 6/28/2013
    Mediation Services of Southwest Florida
    Mediation Services of Southwest Florida | Dennis J. Leffert, J.D.
    Your question is best answered by someone at the Florida Bar. You may telephone them at 850-561-5600 or go to their website at: http://www.floridabar.org/ Referrals are always appreciated.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    If an attorney has a relationship with his/her client it is perceived as unethical. If you have proof of the relationship, you should contact the California State Bar and report the matter so they can investigate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Vargas Law Office LLC | Ronnie Ismael Vargas
    Call the Ethics Hotline, which is listed on the website for the Wisconsin State Bar and ask them that question. They will provide you with a detailed answer.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of Ilona Antonyan | Gerald W. Hokstad
    Its not illegal, but it could be unethical depending on all the facts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    It is legal but unethical. You could report such to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Council.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC | Galen M. Hair
    Your question is interesting. In short, it isn't illegal. But, depending on the exact situation, it may be unprofessional, which could have implications for the lawyer but will not necessarily affect your divorce. With that said, it is advisable to be very careful before making those allegations. For it to be a problem, the lawyer typically must be engaging in sexual intercourse with his/her client during the representation. It does happen sometimes where a client develops an attraction to his/her attorney during the representation and then subsequent to the representation he or she enters into a sexual relationship. I have also seen it occur where a lawyer develops an attraction to his or her client and as a result transfers the case to another attorney to avoid the problem. Because of the delicate details involved, it is usually wise to be very hesitant before making any accusations.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Smith, Gildea & Schmidt | Michael Gene DeHaven
    It depends on what you mean by relationship. Adultery in Maryland is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. Although adultery is a crime, it is rarely prosecuted. Adultery is difficult to prove, so you should consult with your lawyer before making any such accusation. Also, engaging in a sexual relationship with a client may be unethical. According to Rule 1.7(b) of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct: A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation of that client may be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client or to a third person, or by the lawyer's own interests, unless: (1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation will not be adversely affected; and (2) the client consents after consultation. An attorney in Maryland was disbarred because he violated this rule (and others) by; allow(ing) his own personal interests to interfere substantially with his representation of Ms. [the client] Respondent placed his personal interests above those of Ms. [the client] when he had sexual intercourse with her and then later convinced her to perform other sex acts Ms. [the client] was in an unstable emotional state due to her pending divorce litigation and Respondent took advantage of her situation for his own personal interest By these actions, Respondent violated Rule 1.7(b) of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct. See AGC v. Culver. However, please note that in the Culver case, his client brought the grievance action against him.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    It isn't a question of "legality" unless adultery is a crime in your state. It is, however, a very serious ethical violation and the attorney could face severe disciplinary action, including loss of his license, if your allegations are true. If you have verifiable information of the affair you should contact the state bar association to file your complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Robert J. Merlin, P.A.
    Robert J. Merlin, P.A. | Robert J. Merlin
    First of all, you need to make sure that you are not falsely accusing anyone of doing anything. But if they are having an affair, it probably is a violation of Rule 4-8.4(i) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. You can file a formal complaint with The Florida Bar about any attorney's conduct, including having an affair with a client, by calling them at 850/561-5600 or going to The Bar's website at http://www.floridabar.org .
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Offices of Brian J. Lockwood
    Law Offices of Brian J. Lockwood | Brian J. Lockwoood
    It may be "legal," i.e. not a crime, but it is frowned upon. However, it generally does not secure an advantage for a litigant. It is considered (generally) a potential ethical issue, not a criminal matter.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    The situation you describe may violate Rule 3-120 of the Rules of Professional Conduct which governs sexual relations with a client. You should consult a family law attorney to review all of the facts and determine what course of action would be appropriate for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    If you are talking about a sexual relationship generally no California law supports the policy of the reconciliation. That is why there is a 6 month waiting period. If the divorce is over and there are still property division issues it still looks very bad, but not necessarily illegal. It would not constitute adultery, but there are certainly issues about whether the relationship was forced by the lawyer. That being said, the issue is your wife's not yours.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    If the affair was not happening before the representation, he/she can be reported to the Washington state Bar Association and may be disciplined and even disbarred.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/1/2012
    Pietryga Law Office | Russ Pietryga
    No. It is a conflict of interest.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/1/2012
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