My area is behavioral healthcare, and the only time I have contact with attorneys is when something awful is happening. But a question came up at my colleague's organization, and I was shocked that neither he nor I could find a ready answer.
In behavioral health, licensed professionals like psychologists, social workers, etc, have to follow a code of ethics to maintain their license. If they are ever found to have had an improper relationship with a client, they would risk their license to practice. But I could find no similar code of ethics, regulations, or statutes in my state (NJ) for attorneys.
I guess common sense tells me that if an attorney had a sexual relationship with a client it would be unethical. But I can't find anything to back this up.
All I could find about attorney ethics in NJ is how consumers can make complaints for malpractice, and how attorneys have been censured or disbarred for financial improprieties. There is a pledge of "professionalism" but it's really about advising clients properly and treating them with respect. Nothing about improper relationships.
Can someone tell me where I might find this info? Or is it not necessarily an ethical problem for an attorney to have a sexual relationship with a client like it is in healthcare?
What about a corporate client? Would that make a difference?
Thanks to anyone who can point me in the right direction.
Note: I did find the American Bar Association's Model Code for Professional Conduct, but although that code prohibits sexual rel'ps, the NJ version doesn't seem to. Any ideas as to why?