Look, we’ve all been there. You’re sitting in your law office at the end of the month enjoying a game of Words With Friends when suddenly you realize you’ve only billed a total of 18.2 hours over the past 29 days. My God, you think to yourself. What the hell have I been doing all day? Okay, lets see… I must be missing some billables in here somewhere. Didn’t I just update my Adobe Flash Player last Wednesday? That counts, right? That’s gotta be, what, like 4.5 hours at least, right?
You tend to get desperate, is what we’re trying to say. Maybe you just pour yourself a gallon of Red Bull and dictate legal memos for the next 48 hours straight, or maybe you find more… creative ways to increase your hours. Burnsville, Minnesota attorney Thomas P. Lowe decided to do the latter.
In August of 2011, Lowe began representing an acquaintance in her divorce proceedings. A few days after he agreed to take the woman on as a client, he phoned her up and asked if she’d be interested in having sex with him. She was, apparently, so they proceeded to carry on an eight-month affair.
Now, at this point, your average, run-of-the-mill sleaze monster probably would have just called it a day, right? That’s gross enough, considering: (1.) Lowe was married at the time; (2) the woman was an abuse victim fresh out of a painful divorce; and (3) it’s a major ethics violation to have a sexual relationship with a client. But Lowe is no ordinary sleaze monster, so he didn’t stop there.
Wait for it…
Wait for it…
Lowe then billed the woman for the hours he spent sleeping with her. He coded their liaisons as “meetings” or “drafting memos” (we probably would have gone with “showing my briefs to the client” or “probing the witness”).
Lowe cut off the affair and resigned as the woman’s attorney after his wife learned of the relationship in March of 2012, at which point the woman tried to kill herself. She eventually told the Emergency Room staff what had prompted the suicide attempt, and Lowe got reported to the Minnesota Bar. According to a decision filed by the Minnesota Supreme Court this week, Lowe — who was already on probation for purchasing cocaine from a client (seriously, can’t you at least find a non-client to commit your misdemeanors with?) — is now prohibited from practicing law for the next 15 months.