You know a lawyer is in trouble when he’s had sex with a client and gets called before the state bar’s disciplinary committee. You know he’s in really big trouble when the sex isn’t even the biggest ethical issue that the disciplinary committee is investigating. That’s where a Minnesota attorney found himself after allegedly having an affair with the woman he represented in a divorce proceeding. As if the affair wasn’t enough, he reportedly billed the women for legal services for the time spent during their sexual encounters. Yikes.
Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended attorney Thomas Lowe indefinitely for his conduct relating to an affair with a client. In August of 2011, Lowe began representing a woman in divorce proceedings against her husband. Lowe himself was married at the time. In short order, the two began a sexual affair that lasted nearly six months. The real kicker is that Lowe was apparently billing his client for the time spent during the affair. Lowe reportedly billed the women for legal service on the dates of their alleged sexual encounters. The billing entries were coded as meetings or drafting memoranda.
In fairness, there’s no ABA billing code to properly cover this kind of thing.
Things took a serious turn after he terminated the affair and withdrew as her attorney. Lowe’s client, who had a history of mental health issues, attempted to take her own life when he ended the affair. She was then hospitalized, at which she disclosed the affair.
Eventually, the information found its way to the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility Of course, Lowe initially denied much of the allegations. He later changed his stance to “unconditionally” admit the allegations. The indefinite suspension by the Minnesota Supreme Court was accompanied by an order that he would not have a chance for reinstatement for at least 15 months.
Lowe’s disciplinary records reveal that in 1997 he was reportedly placed on probation for an offense involving cocaine. But wasn’t just that he used or possessed cocaine. He allegedly bought the cocaine from a client. All we can say is, wow!