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Rule 8.4. Misconduct.

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

(b) Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

(e) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;

(f) Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable Rules of Judicial Conduct or other law; or

(g) Engage in sexual relations with a client that exploit the lawyer-client relationship. For purposes of this subdivision:

(1) "Sexual relations" means sexual intercourse or the touching of an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse; and

(2) Except for a spousal relationship or a sexual relationship that existed at the commencement of the lawyer-client relationship, sexual relations between a lawyer and a client shall be presumed to be exploitative. This presumption is rebuttable.


COMMENT

Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of willful failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally, the distinction was drawn in terms of offenses involving "moral turpitude." That concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, or breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligation.

A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(c) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law.

Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust such as trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, agent and officer, director or manager of a corporation or other organization.

Subdivision (g) proscribes sexual exploitation of the lawyer's client. A lawyer who commences a sexual relationship with the client during legal representation may be exploiting the client's trust in the lawyer, the client's vulnerability in a stressful situation, or the lawyer's superior professional position. A sexual relationship that exploits the client's trust in the lawyer compromises the lawyer-client relationship.

If the client is an organization, references to the client in this subdivision include any individual who oversees the client's interests in the representation and gives instructions to the lawyer on behalf of the organization.

The proscription of subdivision (g) applies only to a lawyer who is directly involved in the representation of the client.


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