Copyright (c) 1997 The Journal of the Legal Profession
The Journal of the Legal Profession
ARTICLE: Attorney-Client Sexual Relations
1997 / 1998
22 J. Legal Prof. 131
Abed Awad *
When one is presented with an opportunity for a consensual sexual encounter, it is possible that the person may proceed and succumb to temptation. Such a situation could, and often does, develop during an attorney's representation of a client. In an attorney-client relationship, the attorney holds the position of power and dominance. 1 When one is in volved in a legal matter, the attorney is viewed with utmost reverence, a sort of a savior. This perception explains the dominance an attorney has in an attorney-client relationship. The attorney-client relationship from the outset, therefore, is inherently unequal. 2 Such an unequal relationship, where the client in most cases is emotionally and financially vulnerable, is a recipe for abuse by attorneys. 3 Could there be consent in such a relationship? 4 In most cases, especially emotionally charged cases, 5 prob ably not. 6 Commenting on attorney-client sexual relations, one court succinctly stated: "we have nevertheless been consistent in noting that the professional relationship renders it impossible for the vulnerable layperson to be considered 'consenting.'" 7 It may be impossible for the lay person to be considered consenting. Certain non-lay persons may be considered consenting, for example, a high-powered corporate executive engaging in sex with her attorney. If, however, the executive is involved in a matrimonial or criminal matter, consent becomes questionable. 8 It is possible for a client to truly consent to a sexual relationship with an attorney, but it is rare. Clearly, the defense of consent is problematic ...
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