SAN FRANCISCO – The nation’s largest state bar association is overhauling ethics rules for attorneys for the first time in 30 years, and some lawyers are not happy 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.
The proposed change is part of a long-awaited shake-up of the state bar association’s ethics rules for attorneys, which were last fully revised in 1987. Attorneys who violate the rules are subject to discipline by the state bar ranging from private censure to loss of their legal license.