Q My sister is going through a divorce, and now we’ve learned she is romantically involved with her lawyer. Hence, attorneys are prohibited from taking undue or unfair advantage of a client. H., Torrance A California law makes clear that an attorney has a fiduciary relationship — or a heightened duty of loyalty and due care — to the client.If her case goes poorly, will she later second-guess the choice she made to retain him?The better news: Your daughter can replace him with another lawyer, as she see fits.Q About six months ago, our daughter started dating an attorney, and he is now her steady boyfriend. G., Long Beach A B&P Code Section 6109.6 and RPC Rule 3-120, referenced above, do not apply to ongoing consensual relationships that predate the start of the lawyer-client relationship.She was recently involved in an automobile accident, and he is going to represent her. Thus, the lawyer-boyfriend can ethically represent your daughter, but there are several potential issues that could arise.Sometimes friendships and even romances develop between lawyers and clients.
Although an attorney is not specifically prohibited from having an intimate relationship with a client, both Rule 3-120 and Section 6109.9 set forth that an attorney’s representation should cease if, as a result of the sexual relationship, his or her services cannot be competently carried out.
One reader of this blog arrived here as a result of a Google search that asked, “can paralegal see client socially after legal relationship ends?
” Here are some thoughts on the topic: It is likely that you will not find a direct answer to this question in any of the various professional association Codes of Ethics such as the NFPA Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, but the answer can be derived from such codes as it can be derived for attorneys from the ABA Model Code.
For example, if they go their separate ways, will your daughter still have trust and confidence in him as her lawyer?
Even if their relationship goes well, will his objectivity be affected such that he cannot do a competent job for her?