Attorneys' conduct is subject to a higher ethical standard and lawyers are subject to reprimand, disqualification, and public censure if they violate the rules. A lawyer cannot have an intimate sexual relationship with a client that the lawyer currently represents. Specifically, Rule 1.8 (j) advises that a lawyer will not have sexual relations with a client unless there was a consensual relationship between them when the client-lawyer relationship began. Any secrets disclosed to a lawyer by a client outside of their legal relationship may not be protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Code B&P Section 6109.6 and PRC Rule 3-120, mentioned above, do not apply to ongoing consensual relationships prior to the commencement of the attorney-client relationship. Once the personal relationship begins during an existing attorney-client relationship, it is presumed that the lawyer took advantage of the special trust of a vulnerable client for the lawyer's personal benefit. Providing financial assistance to a client also introduces a conflict of interest in the attorney-client relationship. While the rules do not prohibit such representations, the exemption from the rules does not vitiate the lawyer's obligation to continue to comply with any other applicable rules in the attorney-client relationship.
Rule 1.8 (k) of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, effective July 1, 1994, prohibits sexual contact between lawyer and client while conducting a professional legal relationship.
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