The State Bar of California has approved a new ethics rule that would subject lawyers to discipline for having sex with their clients.
The bar’s board of trustees adopted the rule Thursday as part of a long-awaited overhaul of attorney conduct standards.
California currently bars attorneys from coercing a client into sex or demanding sex in exchange for legal representation. The new rule completely bans sex between lawyers and clients with some exceptions. More than a dozen other states have a similar blanket sex ban.
Supporters of the rule said the relationship between a lawyer and client is inherently unequal, so any sexual relationship is potentially coercive. But some attorneys said it was an unjustified invasion of privacy.
The new rule now goes to the California Supreme Court, which has the final say.