Do professional ethical standards apply when the professional is acting in a personal capacity?

UPDATED: Sep 16, 2011

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Do professional ethical standards apply when the professional is acting in a personal capacity?

If a CA licensed therapist acts in clear violation of professional ethical standards in a personal (non-client) capacity, can that person be held accountable, or do those standards only apply while the person is serving in a professional capacity or “on the clock”?

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends on what the ethical standards say, and how they apply to this specific situation. Some ethical rules do have implications that can apply or occur in non-client circumstances. For example, lawyers can suffer censure or penalty for committing theft or embezzlement from people who are not their clients, or can have their license to practice suspended for drug or alcohal problems that did not actually affect the quality of their representation; that's because the majority of state professional codes of responsibility require lawyers to not engage in activity that can impact the reputation of the bar or the attorney's ability to be trusted with client money. So to answer your question, look to the relevant ethical rules or codes for therapists in CA and see how they apply to the specific situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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