It is true that to be truly successful in business, it is not what you know…it’s who you know. For attorneys, that commonly means that referrals from people are as good as gold. Indeed, it is easier to work with someone that you have things in common with. In some instances, common goals may translate into friendships. While this may be a good thing, it may spell disaster if the relationship turns romantic or sexual.
There are unique dangers that clients must be aware of when embarking on a romantic relationship with a lawyer who is representing them. First and foremost, the potential for the client to be hurt emotionally and financially should not be ignored. As a counselor, an attorney has to be able to analyze a problem dispassionately so that fair, well-reasoned advice could be given. An attorney involved in a romantic relationship with a client may not be able to do this.
Additionally, an attorney has a fiduciary relationship with the client. A lawyer who engages in a sexual or romantic relationship with a client also has the great potential for exploiting the client in violation of Florida’s rules of professional conduct, given the reliance on the lawyer for professional judgment. Further, a client who is the recipient of a sexual advance may feel compelled to accept it out of fear that rejection will sour the attorney’s desire for the case. Even worse, an unscrupulous attorney may exploit the relationship for additional fees.
Suffice it to say, entering into a romantic relationship with one’s attorney is fraught with problems and should be avoided.