I work for Lawline.com and therefore, am entitled to a veritable buffet of CLE programming – I eat what I want and NEVER feel bad about leaving something on my plate. So it takes a mighty interesting topic to warrant my hour + and frankly, from the start, this course wasn't on my to-be-digested roster.
The topic seemed too simple – don’t screw around with someone else’s child birth. Plain and pretty simple. In fact, I suppose it’s a foregone conclusion that any Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) contract should be drafted ethically. But as I sit down this very instant to write this blog I really have no idea what that (ethical drafting, that is) means. In other words, out of all courses, this course still has a chance to be viewed by me – oh, the lucky few!
Here’s what is going through my head and please excuse me as I go all stream-of-consciousness on you. We don’t want women being coerced into pregnancy; duress and undue influence should likewise not be tolerated. We don’t want an unknown bystander to suddenly wind up the father (or worse even, the mother) of a child they didn’t see coming. Yikes. But these doomsday scenarios are patently unrealistic and so I remain unsold on this one.
But how could an attorney really screw this up? I took and passed (eventually) the MPRE exam and as a result am thinking as I pound the keyboard that any attorney who made it past the bar could cruise through this work unfettered by ethical slipups – cake!
So I googled, yahoo'd, binged (turns out alta vista is no longer a viable searching option) and even searched my own libraries of vestigial tissues crammed in between my ears and above my neck. What I found and realized was that when dealing with ART, there’s a ton of room for an attorney to mess up in ways that, while in other areas, would considered petty occupational hazards, here can result in serious discipline.
Think both parties are on the same page and therefore, trying to represent them both? Strike one, esquire.
Think knowing another state’s laws regarding ART is enough to warrant your counsel for parties within those other states? Incorrect, sir barrister, sir. Strike two!
Certain that if an unknown issue arises for which you did not agree to serve as counsel that you, by the good graces of your graceful soul, can unilaterally take said issue upon yourself? Struck out looking, knees bending, ball in the dirt, fans booing and you on your way to the dugout of state bar sanctions, the A-Rod of Assisted Reproductive Technology!
Original opinion withdrawn. Representing clients utilizing Assisted Reproductive Technology is as complex and crater-ridden as any form of counsel dealing with attempts at giving birth must be!
Fee structures are more conservative; services offered must be very carefully defined; and, you’d better not have a deal with doctor!!! Unlike other areas of law, those attorneys practicing within the ART boundaries are being carefully supervised. All told, when advising an ART client, there’s a lot at stake and for that reason, rules often neglected elsewhere are upheld here religiously.