One-Year Suspension for Lawyer Who Sought “Secretary With Benefits”

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In a not-at-all surprising decision on Monday, the Illinois Supreme Court accepted a hearing board's recommendation that an attorney be suspended from the practice of law for at least one year. In addition to other alleged ethical violations, the attorney sought to hire a secretary who, in addition to general secretarial work and some paralegal work, would be required to have sex with the lawyer and his partner.

[L]aw firm looking to hire [an] energetic woman for their open secretary/legal assistant position. Duties will include general secretarial work, some paralegal work and additional duties for two lawyers in the firm. No experience required, training will be provided. Generous annual salary and benefits will be provided, including medical, dental, life, disability, 401(k) etc. If interested, please send current resume and a few pictures along with a description of your physical features, including measurements.

Emphasis added to the inappropriate part. The lawyer placed this ad on Craigslist, and got at least one response, from a woman who did think the request for her "measurements" was a bit odd but said she assumed the firm just wanted to hire an attractive secretary.

But that wasn't all, as the lawyer made clear in a follow-up email. Noting that the ad had been posted in the "adult gigs" section of Craigslist (which, ladies, is another definite red flag), he informed her that this would indeed be an "adult gig":

[I]n addition to the legal work, you would be required to have sexual interaction with me and my partner, sometimes together sometimes separate. This part of the job would require sexy dressing and flirtatious interaction with me and my partner, as well as sexual interaction. You will have to be comfortable doing this with us.

Comfortable so far? Great!

The next step is to set up an interview. When are you available to interview? I am free to interview today. Please let me know what your availability is.

Lastly, we've actually hired a couple of girls in the past for this position. But they have not been able to handle the sexual aspect of the job later. We have to be sure you're comfortable with that aspect, because I don't want you to do anything that you're not comfortable with. So … we've decided that as part of the interview process you'll be required to perform for us sexually (i didn't do this before with the other girls i hired, now i think i have to because they couldn't handle it). Because that aspect is an integral part of the job, I think it's necessary to see if you can do that, because it'll predict future behavior of you being able to handle it when you have the job….

Thanks for your interest.

Strangely enough, the interest he was referring to was long gone, probably having fled screaming sometime around the end of that first sentence up above. The applicant instead reported the attorney to the disciplinary commission, which recommended a one-year suspension for the three counts alleged. The state supreme court agreed.

FYI, the attorney's "interview process" was found to have violated the ban on conduct that "tends to bring the legal profession into disrepute." The long-standing common-law rule against being astonishingly creepy was not cited, but probably also came into play.