Lawyer Disciplined for Sex With Corporation

The Supreme Court of Kansas indefinitely suspended Kansas City lawyer Allison L. Bergman in part for having sex with a corporate client. See In re Allison L. Bergman, No. 115,448 (Oct. 28, 2016).

The respondent served as general counsel to the Kansas City Terminal Railway Company. During the course of her representation of the company, she commenced a sexual relationship with its president and board chair. She thereafter failed to disclose the relationship to the corporation’s board, but nonetheless drafted her lover’s employment contract. Furthermore, when he later breached various fiduciary duties that he owed to the corporation, the respondent did not report his misconduct to the board.

The Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, like the ABA Model Rules, prohibit a lawyer from having “sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.” But can a lawyer really have sex with an organizational client? The sexual relationship undoubtedly impaired the duty of loyalty that she owed to her client. For that reason, the relationship clearly created a concurrent conflict of interest. But she simply did not—and could not—have sex with her corporate client.

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