Lawyer faces disciplinary action after engaging in relationship with client

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A partner in the Columbus, Ohio, office of Taft Stettinius & Hollister is facing possible disciplinary action after she allegedly exchanged sexually explicit text messages and engaged in sexual activity with a client.

In a complaint filed Friday, the Ohio Office of Disciplinary Counsel said family law attorney Jessica Mager violated the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, “specifically Prof.Cond.R. 1.8(j) [prohibiting a lawyer from soliciting or engaging in sexual activity with a client unless a consensual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced].”

Reuters reported on the case, which allegedly stems from Mager’s representation of the client in his divorce in September 2019.

Their conversations became “increasingly personal,” as shown by text messages sent in October 2019, according to the complaint. In one exchange, Mager asked her client, “Can we go on like a normal date, like ever!?” Her client responded, “Yes like 4ever and ever if u want me.”

On Oct. 19, 2019, Mager’s client went to her house, where they had dinner and wine and engaged in sexual intercourse, according to the complaint. She later sent a text message to her client, saying “I do want you and I do want to see where it goes. I think I have said that and my actions support what I am saying.”

A few days later, on Oct. 21, 2019, Mager’s client got into an altercation with his wife at their home. After she left and notified law enforcement, Mager’s client was found dead in the home. According to the complaint, his death was determined to be a suicide.

“The firm and Ms. Mager take these matters very seriously and will fully cooperate with the board,” a representative for Taft Stettinius & Hollister told Reuters. “Taft remains deeply committed to upholding and enforcing the highest ethical standards of conduct in the practice of law.”

Mager also told Reuters that she has “earned a reputation for integrity” in two decades of practicing law.

“However, two years ago, during a difficult time in my life, I made a serious error in judgment,” she said. “I have no one to blame but myself, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

The case is Ohio Disciplinary Counsel v. Mager. It is now before the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct.

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