Talk about screwing your client over.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that on January 10, the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended attorney Thomas P. Lowe from the practice of law for having an affair with a client and subsequently billing her for sex.
Lowe’s suspension will extend for at least 15 months.
In August 2011, Lowe was approached by an old acquaintance who was seeking to obtain a divorce from her current husband. Lowe agreed to represent the woman.
Days after their initial meeting, Lowe phoned the woman, inquiring about her sex life with her husband, commenting on her appearance and asking whether she would be interested in having sex. The two began a six-month affair the next month.
Throughout this affair, Lowe billed the woman for time they spent having sex. He fraudulently recorded their amorous encounters on billing statements as meetings and memo draftings.
In March 2012, Lowe withdrew as the woman’s attorney and broke off the affair, citing concerns about his own marriage.
The woman, on record as having a history of abuse and mental health treatment, attempted suicide in response. She revealed her affair with Lowe while hospitalized following the suicide attempt.
Proceedings were first brought in July against Lowe, who initially denied most of the charges. Court documents state that he now “unconditionally admits the allegations.”
The incident is not Lowe’s first professional ethical lapse as an attorney. In 1997, Lowe was placed on probation for using cocaine and aiding in the purchase of the drug for a client.
In a poll released by Gallup in November 2012 measuring honesty and ethics across different professions, only 19 percent of those surveyed believed lawyers hold either “very high” or “high” ethical standards. Lawyers were among the lowest ranked professions, on par with politicians and insurance salesmen.
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