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Retreat Session: Proposed Rule Bans Lawyers Having Sex with Clients (Brennan/McCauley)

September 17 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

2:00 – 3:00: Proposed Rule Bans Lawyers Having Sex with Clients, Renu Brennan (Bar Counsel) and James McCauley

Presentation Summary:

The Virginia State Bar’s (VSB’s) Standing Committee on Legal Ethics has proposed rule 1.8 (k) which would prohibit sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced (published for comment but not yet presented for consideration for adoption). This presentation explores (i) the arguments for and against the proposed rule and (ii) how sexual relations between clients and professionals are regulated in other states and professions.



Written Materials:

Faculty Biographies:

Renu Brennan (Bar Counsel) and Jim McCauley (Ethics Counsel), Virginia State Bar

Renu Brennan

Renu Brennan is the Bar Counsel for the VSB. She served as the VSB Deputy Executive Director from 2016 to 2018 and as Assistant Bar Counsel from 2008 to 2016. Ms. Brennan has served as Secretary of Lawyers Helping Lawyers (now VJLAP) and as a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Client Protection. She was a faculty member for the VSB Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course from 2008 to 2011 and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia since 2007.

Ms. Brennan also served as co-chair of the Judicial Nominations Committee of APABA-VA from 2009 to 2011. Ms. Brennan participated as an instructor in the Virginia Bar Association’s Rule of Law program. Prior to coming VSB, she handled professional malpractice and commercial litigation cases in Richmond, Virginia. Ms. Brennan is licensed in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and California, where she practiced in Los Angeles. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and earned her juris doctorate degree from the Boston University School of Law.

 James M. McCauley

Jim McCauley is the Ethics Counsel for the VSB where he has been employed since 1989. Mr. McCauley manages the VSB’s legal ethics section and staff counsel to the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics which writes draft advisory legal ethics opinions, proposes amendments to the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, and provides informal advice through the VSB’s ethics hotline on legal ethics, lawyer advertising, and the unauthorized practice of law. Mr. McCauley started his career at VSB as an Assistant Bar Counsel, prosecuting cases of attorney misconduct. Before joining VSB, Mr. McCauley was in private practice for seven years.

Mr. McCauley frequently lectures and publishes on matters relating to legal ethics and the unauthorized practice of law. He taught Professional Responsibility at the T.C. Williams School of Law for 15 years and served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics and Professionalism from 2008-2011. Mr. McCauley served on the faculty of VSB’s Mandatory Professionalism Course from 2004-2010. He is also a Fellow of the Virginia Law and the American Bar Foundations. Mr. McCauley also served on the Board of Governors of the Real Property Section of VSB from 2004-2010. In 2013, he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia to serve on its Special Committee on Criminal Discovery Rules. In 2014, Mr. McCauley was elected to the Board of Directors for Lawyers Helping Lawyers (now VJLAP). Mr. McCauley is a member of the John Marshall Inn of Court in Richmond, Virginia.  In 2018, he was chosen as Leader of the Year by the 2018 Class of Leaders in the Law sponsored by the Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

Mr. McCauley graduated cum laude from James Madison University in 1978, received his juris doctorate degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond, in 1982 where he was on the University of Richmond Law Review.


September 17
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm