So you're representing a woman in her divorce case. She's pretty cool. She's got a nice smile. Oh, and she just touched your arm. For sure, she wants you. But there's that whole pesky issue of being her lawyer.
American Ambulance Service Inc. President and CEO Michael Aliano has filed a grievance against his wife's lawyer, Zenas Zelotes, (fifty cool points for alliteration beginning with “Z”!). The complaint says Aliano ran into Zelotes at Terry Aliano's (Michael's wife’s) house after hours, giving the impression the two were involved in a relationship.
Zelotes doesn't deny the relationship. In fact, he's arguing that the ethics board really should stay out of lawyer/client relationships completely, regardless of the level of intimacy.
“This is aggressive judicial paternalism versus freedom of association,” said Zelotes, who has been representing his fiancée for the past five years. “There are fundamental constitutional ramifications here. This is the type of fight I live for.”
What's more, he says, this restriction, if allowed to stand and taken literally, bars lawyers from representing their spouses, as well. And for what? Because it's a conflict of interest? Not so, says Zelotes.
“When you are representing someone you have love and affection for, you’re going to work twice as hard and there’s no question about it. It is not a detriment to the relationship,” Zelotes said. “My advice to a woman going through a divorce is, find a competent trial lawyer and make him your boyfriend.”
But ... With all that baggage, the relationship may be doomed from the beginning, statistically speaking. We're just wondering what happens when the relationship goes south during the trial.