Recently, while contemplating the ethics of whether to help a client financially, our POTUS popped into mind. I was reminded about how attorney Michael Cohen violated Rule 1.8(e) in paying Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) the sum of $130,000 in order to buy her silence about her relationship with Donald Trump. That the same ethical rule governs my actions with respect to an indigent client as it governed Mr. Cohen’s actions with respect to Donald Trump deeply troubled me.

Many of us who chose to become legal services lawyers did so because we wanted to help people. The legal system is infamously imbalanced against those who lack resources, and many of us made this issue our professional calling. However, while we can give our time, legal skills and effort to our clients, we cannot give our poor clients any money. The ethical rules prohibit us from giving a client subway fare to go home from court, from buying the hungry young child of a client a bag of chips, from offering to buy an elderly client a bottle of water. But why is there no distinction between rich and poor clients?

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