Unethical relationships between lawyers and clients


Personal or Intimate relationships

It is the position of the Family Justice Review Committee that lawyers who represent clients involved in a family law matter must maintain the highest standards of ethics and accountability.  Having a personal or intimate relationship with a client while at the same time representing them clearly falls outside of the bounds that citizens in the community would consider acceptable professional conduct.

In family law matters there are many factors at work within the family.  There are emotions between former spouse and more importantly the feelings and emotions of children which MUST be considered. Lawyers must at all times keep themselves out of the conflict by maintaining their relationship with their client on strictly a business level.  The Family Justice Review Committee expects lawyers not to act in any way that would be contrary to the best interests of the children and having a personal or intimate relationship with one of the parents is not acceptable.

Lawyers must not become personally or intimately involved with clients for the following reasons:

  • The presence of a lawyer who is personally or intimately involved with their client in a family law matter, will promote further negative emotions between the parties which will result in further conflict.  This will impede attempts to involve mediation or other alternate dispute resolution strategies.

  • Children involved in the matter will be emotionally harmed knowing that one of their parents has a lawyer on their side who they will know is trying to help the one parent destroy the other parent.  Normal kids love both of their parents in most instances.  How would you feel seeing a person having a relationship with your mother or father, knowing that person was helping do destroy your other parent.

  • Most would consider this to be unethical and as such conduct tarnishes the legal professional generally.  This will result in further erosion of the respect of members of the public, including children who will be the future citizens of our community. 

  • The lawyer may be persuaded by their client in doing unethical practices.  Even an otherwise honest  lawyer may bend the rules just to please the client they are romantically or sexually involved with.

Let's face it, no matter what kind of explanation a lawyer may come up with to explain a relationship with a client, most normal people in the community would object.  If you are a lawyer and in doubt, then refer the client on to another lawyer.

Citizens within the community who submit complaints to the Family Justice Review Committee will have their complaint investigated and reviewed by the Committee and if it is confirmed that the lawyer has acted outside of the expectations of members of the community then their name will be removed from the referral list of lawyers that the committee makes available to general members of the public.

If you are a lawyer and have other questions then then refer to the section of the Family Justice Review Website "questions and answers for lawyers"  Link here

If you are a member of the public and wish to complain about a lawyer who may be intimately involved with their client in a family law matter and this is causing problems for you or your children, then contact the Family Justice Review Committee by E mail or phone us at (416) 410-4115