Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger shows a significant ethical issue for a lawyer named “Greg.” Greg is representing Melissa Bowen, Tandy’s mother, against the Roxxon Corp. The mega-evil company pinned the destruction of an oil rig on Tandy’s father, who was killed in a car crash after the oil rig exploded. Eight years later, Greg the lawyer has been navigating the corporate shell games in trying to bring justice to the Bowen family.
Greg also has a sexual relationship with Melissa, does considerate acts of kindness such as buying groceries, and has the hope of one day marrying Melissa. Greg is also married and apparently has a thing for women who need to be rescued. This is an ethical minefield for Greg. The Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct state, “in representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice.” The annotations to the ABA Model Rule state:
“Emotional detachment,” in the words of the ABA’s Ethics Committee, is “essential to the lawyer’s ability to render competent legal services.” A lawyer who engages in a sexual relationship with a client, the committee concluded, risks losing “the objectivity and reasonableness that form the basis of the lawyer’s independent professional judgment.” Because of this threat to independent judgment, and because of the problems of confidentiality and conflicts of interest that lawyer-client sex presents, the committee concluded that a lawyer would be “well advised to refrain from such a relationship.”
In re Ashy, 98-0662 ( La. 12/01/98), 721 So. 2d 859, 867.
Greg is a solo practitioner. Taking on a multi-national corporation that sues former employees for seeking medical treatment on the grounds they violated their confidentiality agreement (See, Daredevil season 1), requires Greg to be able to render independent professional judgment. The fact he is having a sexual relationship with Melissa, whose life has been destroyed by Roxxon, would mean he is not emotionally detached from his client. This would heavily compromise his ability to give his best legal representation.
Attorneys are not supposed to provide financial assistance to a client, except in specific situations with court costs and litigation expenses. La. St. Bar Ass’n. Art. XVI § 1.8. Arguably buying groceries and meals could be considered financial assistance for a client who is unemployed and living in desperate conditions.
Greg appeared to have honorable goals to help the Bowen family, however, his sexual relationship with Melissa would be a serious breach of his ethical duty to provide independent professional judgment and render candid advice. Unfortunately, this turned into a moot point after the episode Call/Response.