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Sexting Lawyers

Sexting Lawyers: A Complicated Issue

Lawyers sexting can get pretty messy, legally speaking. With all the rules lawyers have to follow, sending naughty pics and texts can cause big problems. Let’s break it down.

First off, sexting ain’t just about morals. There are real legal issues involved, especially for lawyers. See, lawyers have special ethical duties compared to us regular folk. The American Bar Association sets rules of professional conduct that lawyers gotta follow. And some states have their own rules on top of that.

So when a lawyer sexts, things can get complicated real quick. The big concerns are confidentiality, competence, dignity, integrity. Ya know, lawyer stuff.


A lawyer’s duty of confidentiality is no joke. Everything a client tells their lawyer is confidential, full stop. The lawyer can’t repeat it without permission, even to their spouse. So obviously, sexting a client is a huge no-no. It violates confidentiality big time.

But what about sexting someone else, like another lawyer or an old flame? Well, that gets murky. If the sexts reference confidential client information at all, it’s unethical. Bar associations have disciplined lawyers for that.

Some experts say lawyers shouldn’t sext anyone about their work, just to be safe. Kinda extreme if ya ask me, but confidentiality is serious business for lawyers.


This one’s interesting. Bar associations say lawyers need to provide “competent representation” to clients. But how does sexting affect competence?

Well, if a lawyer sexts on work time, they ain’t servin’ clients competently. Same if the sexts interfere with work quality. But off-hours sexts? Bar associations stay outta that. They just tell lawyers to avoid conduct that “adversely reflects” on competence. Open to interpretation, if ya ask me.

Most state bars leave it up to lawyers to decide if sexting affects competence. No clear standards. But sexts becoming public could be an issue, since it hurts a lawyer’s image. Clients may doubt their competence.

So sext carefully, lawyers! Don’t let it impact your work, and keep it on the down low.

Dignity and Integrity

Here’s the big one: lawyers can’t engage in “conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” This vague rule gives bar associations a lotta leeway to discipline lawyers for conduct they deem sketchy.

And you better believe sexting can seem sketchy to bar associations. They’ve disciplined lawyers for sending unwanted sexts to non-consenting folks. That’s textbook sexual harassment, after all.

But even mutual sexts between consenting adults can violate the “dignity and integrity” rule. Bar associations have suspended lawyers for sexting prostitutes, coworkers, clients, you name it. The reasoning is it’s “unbecoming” for officers of the court or something like that.

So lawyers shouldn’t assume mutual sexts are cool with state bars. That old dignity and integrity thing gives bar associations a lot of wiggle room to punish sexting if they want to.

Chilling Effect?

Some experts argue these vague ethics rules have a “chilling effect” on lawyers’ private speech. They say it makes lawyers paranoid to express themselves intimately, even off-duty, lest they get disciplined.

And ain’t nobody wanna live in fear like that! Lawyers are people too, ya know. They have needs. Bars shouldn’t squash that just to protect their stuffy reputation.

So maybe these rules need updating for the sexting era. Clearer guidance on when intimate speech crosses the line would help. Banning all lawyer sexting seems extreme. But hey, bar associations move real slow. So for now, sext carefully, lawyers!


If a lawyer gets slapped with an ethics complaint for sexting, they aren’t totally screwed. There are potential defenses to fight it.

One is free speech. Lawyers have free expression rights like everyone else. Bar rules can’t violate the First Amendment. Arguably, banning off-duty sexting between consenting adults overreaches. But bars could counter it affects lawyer fitness. So far courts have sided with bars. Still, the argument’s out there.

There’s also vagueness. If the rule is too vague, it violates due process. What exactly constitutes “prejudicial” or “unbecoming” conduct? Bars would need to clarify. But they deliberately keep it vague. So, uphill battle there too.

Lawyers could also argue violating confidentiality requires the sexts reference privileged information. If they don’t, confidentiality isn’t breached. And competence problems require actual harm to clients. If no real impact, then no issue. See what I’m sayin’? Lawyers can nitpick the rules.

But at the end of the day, bar associations have broad powers over lawyer discipline. So don’t go sexting recklessly! Lawyers need to watch their backs.

Bottom Line

Sexting as a lawyer is risky business. Bar rules on confidentiality, competence and dignity mean lawyers aren’t free to express themselves intimately like others. Before hitting send, think long and hard about how sexts could impact your fitness as a lawyer. And don’t expect much sympathy from bar associations if you do get in trouble. They take ethics real seriously, even if the rules are murky. Your best defense is keeping it 100% consensual and private. But even then, no guarantees. ‘Cuz at the end of the day, them bar associations gotta protect their reputation above all else. Even if it means squashing lawyers’ sexual freedom. Ain’t exactly fair, but whatcha gonna do? Anyway, stay safe out there sexting lawyers! Don’t let the bars rain on your parade unless you give ’em a reason to.

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