Clients with benefits

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When I was in law school, I helped the girl I was dating with a couple of legal issues. Don’t get excited, I was under the supervision of a practicing lawyer.

That girl and I got married and have lived happily ever after.

I was thinking, what if I had been licensed at the time I helped her with those matters? Today, in many jurisdictions,  I might be in trouble since dating a client is verboten.

Is that prohibition a good thing? 

In my opinion, it isn’t. I can see how dating a client can lead to trouble but that doesn’t mean it always leads to trouble. So on this issue, I am decidedly libertarian: 

Leave us alone, overseers, and trust that we will usually do the right thing. If we don’t, do what you have to do.

On the other hand, while I don’t like “not dating” as a rule, it makes a lot of sense as a recommendation. A strong one, even, complete with examples of all the things that could go wrong.

Here’s another recommendation: don’t treat your clients like personal friends. 

If you hang out with your clients, if you are overly familiar with them or use coarse language in front of them, or you do a host of other things that might be considered undignified and unprofessional in the eyes of your clients, you run the risk of damaging your reputation. 

Be friendly with clients, but maintain a bit of distance. Let down your hair with them occasionally, but don’t ever let them see you drunk.  

We need our clients to respect us and look up to us, something our friends don’t always do. Especially if we’re sleeping with them.

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