Proposed Rules of Professional Conduct
SCMV Shareholder Dan Eaton recently authored an article for the Daily Journal regarding sexual relations with a current client (Rule 1.8.10). Dan served as a member of the California State Bar Rules Revision Commission and on the four-member drafting team that focused on proposed Rule 1.8.10. In March, the State Bar Board of Trustees forwarded the Commission’s recommendations to the California Supreme Court which has the final say on which, if any, of the Commission’s proposed ethical rules to adopt. In 1992, the State Bar of California became the first in the nation to adopt an ethical rule addressing sexual relations between lawyers and their clients. However, in the 25 years, there have been virtually no successful disciplinary prosecutions under the rule. The Commission’s recommended revision of the rule states: (a) A lawyer shall not engage in sexual relations with a current client who is not the lawyer's spouse or registered domestic partner, unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the lawyer-client relationship commenced. (b) For purposes of this rule, "sexual relations" means sexual intercourse or the touching of an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. (c) If a person other than the client alleges a violation of this rule, no Notice of Disciplinary Charges may be filed by the State Bar against a lawyer under this rule until the State Bar has attempted to obtain the client's statement regarding, and has considered, whether the client would be unduly burdened by further investigation or a charge.