California Bar May Ban Sex Between Lawyers, Clients

The State Bar of California may ban sex between attorneys and their clients, as part of an overhaul of the association to address ethical and administrative concerns.

The Associated Press reports:

The nation’s largest state bar association is overhauling ethics rules for attorneys for the first time in 30 years, and some lawyers are unhappy about a proposal that would open them up to discipline for having sex with clients.

California currently bars attorneys from coercing a client into sex or demanding sex in exchange for legal representation.

Supporters of an all-out ban say the relationship between a lawyer and client is inherently unequal, so any sexual relationship is potentially coercive. But some attorneys say it’s an unjustified invasion of privacy.

Seventeen states currently have a ban in place, along the guidelines established by the American Bar Association, with an exception if the sexual relationship preceded the attorney-client relationship.

Others contend that the ban would be an invasion of privacy.

Many of the ethics rules currently in place prevent attorneys from intermingling their private business interests with those of their clients.

Reform of the State Bar of California has been a thorny political issue. As columnist Dan Walters wrote in the Sacramento Bee earlier this year:

The State Bar’s incompatible functions, coupled with financial shenanigans and administrative shortcomings detailed in a state auditor’s report, finally sparked a reaction in the Legislature.

When the State Bar made its routine request to the Legislature for authority to impose mandatory “dues” on attorneys to support its operations, a rank-and-file revolt among the Assembly’s members resulted in a fairly strong bill to reform some of its operations.

Legislative efforts to reform the State Bar failed earlier this year.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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