Things Lawyers Argue About:

Does "engaging in a three-way sexual encounter with [a current client] and [the client's] girlfriend" count as having sex "with a current client" (a practice forbidden by state bar rules)?

From Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Inglimo, decided last week by the Wisconsin Supreme Court (paragraph break added):

¶57 The relevant language of SCR 20:1.8(k) is as follows:

(k)(1) ... (i) "Sexual relations" means sexual intercourse or any other intentional touching of the intimate parts of a person or causing the person to touch the intimate parts of the lawyer.... (2) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a current client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the lawyer-client relationship commenced.

¶58 The referee found that Attorney Inglimo engaged in sexual relations with L.K.'s girlfriend while she was doing the same with L.K. The OLR essentially argues that the word "with" in SCR 20:1.8(k)(2) connotes a temporal and spatial connection. According to the OLR, as long as the lawyer and the client are both participating in a sexual act at the same time in the same place, they are having sexual relations "with" each other....

¶59 On this issue, we concur with the referee's conclusion [that Inglimo did not violate the rule]. The definition of sexual relations in SCR 20:1.8(k)(1) connotes conduct directly between the lawyer and the client. When the definition refers to touching, the rule speaks of the lawyer intentionally touching the intimate parts of "a person," but the subsequent alternative definitional phrase uses the more definitive "the person" when referring to a situation in which the lawyer causes the touching to be done to him/her. In addition, to the extent that sexual intercourse also qualifies as "sexual relations" under the definition, such conduct is likewise done intentionally (i.e., not by accident).

Further, SCR 20:1.8(k)(2) prohibits a lawyer from having "sexual relations" "with a current client." Thus, the definitional language of SCR 20:1.8(k)(1) and the prohibition of SCR 20:1.8(k)(2) together clearly indicate that the prohibited "sexual relations," whether intercourse or touching, must be intentionally done between the lawyer and one particular person, namely the client.... [B]ecause it does not appear that the definitional elements of "sexual relations" have been satisfied, the simple term "with" in the prohibitional phrase in SCR 20:1.8(k)(2) cannot transform this situation into a violation of the rule.

Note that Mr. Inglimo was found guilty of a good deal of other misconduct, involving sex, drugs, and money, and was suspended from the practice of law for 3 years.