Divorce Lawyer Bills His Client For Their Affair

A divorce lawyer has been indefinitely suspended from practicing law after having an affair with his client and then billing her for the time they were together conducting their affair.  According to news accounts, the lawyer was representing a woman in a divorce case.  He is married and he had known this woman for many years.  He would bill her for legal services rendered while the two were engaged in relations.  Apparently, he would refer to the time spent as “meeting” or “drafting a memo.”

In Maryland, it has long been understood that a lawyer having an affair with a client is unethical.  One primary reason to hire an attorney is so that there is some individual who is removed from the case and can provide detached advice.  You cannot do that if you are intimately involved with the client.

Sadly, some years ago an attorney tried to weasel out of his disciplinary hearings and the ethics police who govern Maryland lawyers had to clarify that yes, having an affair with a client is a conflict of interest and therefore an ethical violation.  Although the attorney in the news story is not from Maryland, his state presumably has the same laws as he was indefinitely suspended and must wait at least 15 months before reapplying to practice.

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