Lawyer Suspended Over Sham Marriage to Elderly Client
California is one of those strange states that frown upon sexual relationships between attorneys and clients. To make matters worse, the state even prohibits the use of a sexual relationship to exercise undue influence over a client.
Such morality has been a roadblock to the plans of many trust and estates attorneys who seek to profit from a client's eventual death. Only the smart ones have figured out how to circumnavigate these rules.
One of the not-so-smart ones happens to be Linda Lowney, a 60- (or so) year-old attorney in Pacifica. She was doing well for awhile, but then she got caught. Now, like many of us, she can't even make money practicing law.
Lowney drafted a will in 2002 for an 82-year-old client who left his estate to his sister and nieces. Three years later, she somehow became romantically involved with the man, who also happened to be in poor health, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. In August 2005, the client transferred $339,000 to Lowney for the purposes of taking care of him.
Opinions differ, but the Bar Judge found that after the pair secretly married in January 2006, they continued to live separately. Lowney's lawyer told the paper that this was just untrue.
What probably got Lowney in trouble was the fact that she cremated her estranged spouse against directives placed in the will she originally drafted. She also failed to tell his family and discouraged them from visiting according to the Chronicle.
The moral of the story? When death and money are involved, people start digging. So don't sleep with or marry really old clients, and be sure to take their money well before they die.
Or, you know, don't screw them over in the first place.
- Lawyer Is Suspended Over Her Marriage to an Elderly Client (ABA Journal)
- Texas Lawyers Reject Ban on Sex with Clients (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Florida Lawyer Disbarred over Sex-for-Fees Arrangement (FindLaw's Strategist)