Sorry I haven’t been about very much. Short story: I am in Oxford and I do not presently have the resources to access anything except the visitor wireless network which generally bans (a) my work e-mail and (b) this site as deeply suspicious. Don’t ask. Hopefully to be rectified soon. But it is a red letter day. For reasons unknown the wireless network has decided to let me through. Hurrah!
A friend alerted me to the following extraordinary case from the US, reported by Newser:
If you feel the urge to have sex with your lawyer, make sure you’re off the clock first. Otherwise, you might find out that your lawyer is like this one in Minnesota—suspended after having an affair with a client and billing her for time they spent having sex, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
Thomas Lowe was representing the woman in a divorce, and at one point, while asking about her sexual relationship with her husband, suggested she sleep with him. She agreed, and he billed a number of their liaisons as meetings. When he eventually broke things off, the woman tried to kill herself, and, while recovering in the hospital, revealed the affair. Lowe “unconditionally admits” the whole thing, says the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. He isn’t eligible for reinstatement for 15 months.
Now, as emerged in the infamous Julia Gillard post, and as my colleague Linda Haller explains here, there is no law in Victoria stating that it is unethical to be in a sexual relationship with one’s client. The more I think about it, the more I think it should be, much as it is a breach of medical ethics for a doctor to sleep with a patient. This is not only to protect the client, but also to protect the lawyer from him or herself.
However, it is a definite breach of legal ethics rules to sleep with one’s client and bill the client for that time as a ‘client meeting’. Presumably the lawyer did not disclose the basis of the costs he was charging in relation to his ‘services’ to the client, and it can hardly be said that the services were a legal service. That guy brings a whole new nuance to the word ‘solicitor’.
I always goggle when I see a lawyer do something like that. Did he sleep through the entire ethics class? How could he possibly think that was a legitimate thing to do?