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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is it Ethical for a Lawyer to Have Sex With a Client?

Attorney Henry Baskin
Technically, the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct do not expressly proscribe a lawyer from having sexual relations with a client.  The lack of a specific ethics provision, however, did not prevent the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission from issuing a reprimand and assessing costs against well-known Birmingham attorney, Henry Baskin, for allegedly conducting a long-term physical relationship with a female divorce client.

We here at the Law Blogger know Henry, having worked with him on a few matters over the years.  So we are compelled to ask, Henry...Henry...of all the women you could persuade to, er, date you, why select a client; and a divorce client to boot?

The Attorney Discipline Board [a panel of lawyers assigned to decide Henry's case] had this to say in disposing of this matter:
Although there is no evidence of actual injury to the client, the potential injury under these circumstances is clear to any lawyer, and certainly to someone with [Baskin's] experience.
Never one to shirk the white-hot spotlight, Henry has publicly commented that he disagreed with the decision, and thought the matter should have been resolved privately long-ago; the relationship apparently was conducted from 1999 through 2004.  Henry also noted with some apparent pride, that his client was well-served in the divorce to the extent she received a record-breaking alimony award.

Perhaps this ruling will have some interesting future implications.  For example, what if the lawyer has a long-standing committed and pre-existing relationship with the client, say in a probate or commercial matter?  Obviously divorce clients are always going to be "taboo".  Or what if a lawyer represents his spouse?

The Attorney Grievance Commission always takes the unique facts and circumstances of a particular case into account.  We have to agree with this one.  Of all the people a divorce lawyer may elect to date, it just should not be from among the corps of that lawyers clientele.

So folks, beware of the horny divorce attorney!  Caveat emptor on that one for sure...

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