DALLAS (CN) – Seventy-two percent of the members of the State Bar of Texas have rejected a change in ethics rules that would bar sex with clients. The rule would have forbidden sex between a lawyer and client unless they were engaged in a consensual relationship before representation began – or if they are married.
The ban was one of six proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct that were presented to Bar members in February. All were rejected, some by margins of 3-to-1, according to the state Bar’s Web site.
The vote on “prohibited sexual relations” was 27,731 against, and 10,617 in favor.
Lillian Hardwick, an Austin sole practitioner who chaired a State Bar rules committee, told Texas Lawyer magazine she hopes the Texas Supreme Court will adopt rule changes in spite of the vote.
“The court can promulgate the rules on its own,” Hardwick said.
In an interview with the ABA Journal, Hardwick said the state supreme court has the inherent authority and the obligation to regulate law practice in the state. When asked why lawyers rejected the ban on sex with clients, she said it was likely more of a protest vote over the amendment process.
“I think people got a certain amount of satisfaction from pulling the lever,” she said.