For the past seven years, lawyers have been drafting new rules of conduct for state-licensed attorneys, due to the failure of the state to regulate sexual relationships among lawyers and their clients, which could pose as a possible threat to lawyers as well as their clients in more than one ways. Rule 1.13 of the proposed rules has gained exceptional attention due to the fact that this particular rule deals with “Sex and the Client”, which has been deemed the biggest sticking point of the whole proposed draft.
Unlike the vast majority of other state bars, the State Bar of Texas’ rules of conduct do not ban an attorney from engaging in a sexual relationship with a client. One may view this as an alarming matter because this restriction applies not only to several other attorneys in several other states, but also to other licensed professionals such as doctors, social workers, and massage therapists.
This proposed ruling has been under discussion for several years and has just been tossed back and forth among the State Bar of Texas, mostly in part because so many individuals feel so differently about the issue. But now, the proposed rule has been fully written and is waiting on approval not only from the state’s lawyers, but also the state bar, and the Supreme Court as well.
Many lawyers feel that adopting a rule that would regulate sex between lawyers and their clients could possibly lead to severe malpractice charges. Other lawyers claim that the lack of a rule could open the door for lawyers to manipulate and take advantage of their clients without paying for the consequences. The rule would indefinitely put restrictions on lawyers and sexual relationships with their clients, but it could not get rid of such sexual relationships altogether.
The rule states that lawyers won’t condition representation on having a client engage in sexual relations, won’t solicit sex as payment of fees, and won’t have sex with someone the lawyer is personally representing unless the sexual relationship is consensual and began before the attorney-client relationship began. The rule also makes an exception for spouses. Many lawyers claim that the rule is simply not restrictive enough and needs to provide adequate protection to all clients. Although, many can come into agreement that the proposed rule is a good start and it would be beneficial to adopt it than let the rules be approved without including any ban of sex between lawyers and their clients.
The State Bar of Texas board of directors will submit a final copy of the proposed draft to the Supreme Court in the next several days. After the Court has reviewed the draft, it will then be passed to the state bar, who will then vote on enacting the draft.