It’s bad enough that Minnesota lawyer Thomas P. Lowes had sex with his divorce client. That’s explicitly forbidden since Minnesota adopted ABA Model Rule 1.8 k, what “L.A. Law” fans fondly refer to as “the Arnie Becker Rule.” Not professional, exploits the relationship, interferes with independent judgment, a conflict of interest, you know, all that stuff.
But Lowes went a step further, and set some kind of a new record for…
- unreasonable billing practices (ABA Rule 1.5)
- inflated self image, or
- always working on the case, no matter what, OR
- …mixing legal work with prostitution.
…by charging his client/lover/sex toy his hourly fee for the time they spent having sex!
After they argued—who knows? Maybe over that!—she dropped him as a lawyer, and he dropped her as a lover. The woman, who was emotionally vulnerable because of past abuse and mental health treatment, tried to kill herself, unsuccessfully. While hospitalized, she disclosed the affair. Lowe was investigated by the Minnesota Bar’s Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility , and charged with misconduct. Lowes admitted his guilt, and has now been suspended. He initially denied much of it, but now has been suspended for at least fifteen months. This means this guy might be back practicing eventually, maybe if he promises not to charge for sex the next time. (Lowe was also placed on probation in 1997 for using cocaine and being involved in purchasing the drug from a client.) It is really, really hard, apparently, to show you aren’t worthy of a bar license in Minnesota.
Pointer: Jay Marshal Wohlman
Facts: Twin Cities
5 thoughts on “Now THAT’S An Unethical Lawyer!”
And I went and got a degree in science! I could have gone to law school, made a windfall from lying barefaced to jury after jury… and gotten a lot on-the-side as well. But charging your female client for that on-the-side? Wow. I wonder if even Charlie Sheen would have had the gall to do that!
This sounds like the public school system unions who protect their members against any disciplinary actions (including firing) for even the most egregious acts.
While I generally don’t make light of these situations, I showed this article to my mother (who’s a lawyer). Her immediate response was to ask if Mr. Lowes’s firm used task-based billing.
If nothing else, this provides a humorous image.
Of course, it’s almost certain that they didn’t (or he falsified the records), which gets into the importance of safeguards against misconduct… and the problems that occur when they are circumvented.
Does Minnesota have a statute against prostitution?
That’s what billing for sex is,is it not?
If he didn’t inform her she’d be charged, conspiracy to defraud too.
Busted… and imo non-professional opinion: he should not be allowed to practice law. A playful part of me is kinda wondering how often women lawyers have charged men clients for the time they spent having sex together and without getting caught.