Legal Ethics

Fla. Lawyer Disbarred; Alternative Sex-for-Legal-Fees Billing a Factor


A Florida lawyer has been disbarred for a pattern of misconduct, including an alternative billing arrangement under which an 18-year-old client reportedly paid her $2,300 legal bill with sexual favors.

James Harvey Tipler, 58, discounted the client’s bill by $200 when she had sex with him, and $400 when she arranged for another woman to have sex with him, according to a Florida Supreme Court opinion (PDF) yesterday that ordered his disbarment.

“He satisfied his own sexual appetite with a client as a sex-for-fees arrangement,” writes Chief Justice Peggy Quince, summing up the evidence that persuaded the court it had no alternative but to disbar Tipler:

“He altered evidence and caused a witness to unknowingly give false testimony. He has charged his clients excessive fees and stolen their money. He has failed to maintain a trust account,” she continues.

“He has broken public confidence in the profession of the practice of law by neglecting his clients and failing to prosecute their cases. He has prejudiced the administration of justice by misrepresenting facts to multiple courts. And, through the disciplinary process in these cases, he has been dilatory, deceitful and evasive.”

Additional coverage:

News Herald (Panama City): “Area lawyer disbarred for sex-for-fees”

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