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Did Lamar Odom's Alleged Mistress Violate Attorney Ethics Rules?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 11, 2013 11:56 AM

Following celebrity gossip isn't amongst my pastimes, nor is taking pleasure in the misery of Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian. Other than wishing that one of my favorite players, who has dealt with a lot of personal tragedy, would get into rehab and get his life in order, I haven't followed the tale of his drug addiction, his marital troubles, or his alleged affair with recent Pepperdine Law grad and California Bar Admittee Polina Polonsky.

Until now that is, thanks to Above the Law, which raised the interesting question of whether Polonsky had violated legal ethics standards during her supposed relationship with Odom.

Moral Turpitude Nonsense

Last month, Staci Zaretsky opined that Polonsky she may have violated the general prohibition on acts involving moral turpitude by sleeping with a married man. The relevant statute states in relevant part:

The commission of any act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption, whether the act is committed in the course of his relations as an attorney or otherwise, and whether the act is a felony or misdemeanor or not, constitutes a cause for disbarment or suspension.

It's safe to assume that suggestion was a bit tongue-in-cheek. True, adultery may violate common standards of morality, but when was the last time a state bar, especially free-loving California, initiated disciplinary proceedings over extramarital fornication with someone who was (a) not a client and (b) not related to a case in any way?

Sure, the language could be stretched that far, but it really wouldn't be.

Attorney Client Privilege, Confidentiality, etc.

A better question, however, comes from Tuesday's revelations. In an interview with TMZ, (at the 5:36 mark) Polonsky mentions that she asked Odom to help her with her legal work, by summarizing case files.

Now this is a closer call. Lawyers do have a duty of confidentiality, and disclosure of information to a third-party could waive any applicable attorney-client privilege, assuming such privileged information was in the files.

However, one might also argue that Odom was merely acting in a paralegal-type capacity. If having a loved one help with your work is a violation, many attorneys out there, who employ family members as extra help around the office, would also be facing the disciplinary committee under that logic.

Is it a good idea to have someone, who was reportedly regularly under the influence of crack cocaine, review your files? Probably not. Ethical violation? It's a close call.

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