Attorney-Client Sex: A Feminist Critique of the Absence of Regulation Academic Article uri icon


  • Doctors can't do it. Psychotherapists can't do it. Ministers can't do it. Chiropractors and social workers can't do it. But lawyers can. Lawyers, in most jurisdictions, can have sex with their clients without violating a standard of professional responsibility. Sex between lawyers and clients occurs far more frequently than many believe. In a 1993 nationwide survey of attorneys, 18.9% of the respondents had sex with a client or knew of at least one other attorney who had. Despite this figure, there are only a handful of cases where attorneys have been disciplined for having sex with their clients. The reported cases run the gamut: some involve "quid pro quo" situations where the attorney required sex in exchange for legal services, others involve forcible rape, and some involve arguably consensual sexual relations. Those that appear to be consensual relationships often involve vulnerable clients-clients who are suicidal, clients who are victims of domestic violence, clients suffering from mental and emotional problems known to the attorney, and clients who are facing criminal charges. Many are divorce cases. Virtually all of the cases involve a male lawyer and a female client.

published proceedings

  • Yale Journal of Law and Feminism

author list (cited authors)

  • Seymore, M. L

complete list of authors

  • Seymore, Malinda L

publication date

  • July 2003