Does Posing Naked for Playboy TV Have Anything to Do With Your Fitness to Practice Law?

There's heavy breathing going on at the WSJ Law blog as they report that Brooklyn Law School Student Bares All. It seems that Ms. Adriana Dominguez, a 3L who has “worked in the domestic violence unit in the Brooklyn DA’s office and served as treasurer of her law school’s Legal Association of Activist Women” also, as the NY Daily News put it, “shed her briefs”.

The WSJ blogger asks if this additional extracurricular activity might cause difficulties with the NY character and fitness committee when Ms. Dominguez applies to join the bar.

Let the jokes about visible fitness of the candidate, and the lack of character of the bar begin.

Kidding aside — assuming the conduct in the video was legal, it's First Amendment protected speech, and I can't imagine how a bar committee would dare block someone on the basis of their legally protected speech. They better not dare, anyway.

A more interesting question is to what extent a stunt like this might impact one's legal career. I imagine some straitlaced firms might think twice about hiring this kind of amateur videographer. (Maybe Sullivan & Cromwell is not a good bet?) And I could see it being an issue that might get in the way of a judicial career — would a governor or President nominate someone knowing this would be an issue at the confirmation hearing?

Some people are going to say that this sort of dumb stunt shows poor judgment, and might raise legitimate questions in a client's mind. And I'm sure that there comes a — gradually receding? — point where it's all just too much. But if the romp in question is no more than the Daily News article makes it sound (“happily strips naked, gets spanked and holds gavels up to her bare breasts”) well, really, who in the end cares?

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6 Responses to Does Posing Naked for Playboy TV Have Anything to Do With Your Fitness to Practice Law?

  1. Normatively, you are right. And I suspect you are positively right for this example. But unfortunately there is bar precedent for denying bar admissions based on what looks like protected speech. The reasoning is that the speech is just evidence of a propensity to act improperly as a lawyer after admission. The most famous example is Matthew Hale in Illinois (which prediction ironically was prescient). I agree that the Brooklyn example is a non-starter, just being used for a laugh, but I wish it were settled that people could not be denied admission for protected activity. BTW, Our post at Legal Profession Blog has a photo. http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2007/04/character_scree.html

  2. Michael says:

    Yah, and next to that photo, there’s this text:

    Correction: The photo left is of Froomkin, not the Brooklyn Law Student. LPB apologizes for the error and any initial confusion.

    Makes one wonder what the original version said…

  3. You busted me. Just a joke. But fine post on the Treaty with Tripoli, as usual.

  4. Matt says:

    Amusingly enough I wrote her a letter of recommendation for law school. I hope it won’t hurt her professionally- she’s a nice young woman and a hard worker.

  5. Joe says:

    There was a female lawyer who appeared several years ago on a Bravo television who was a stripper somewhere in Florida. She stated that she made more money as a stripper than she could make as a lawyer. Did anybody file disciplinary charges against her? She had already passed the bar exam.

  6. Hmm... says:

    As far as I know, a grown woman deciding to shed her clothes and get spanked by a gavel-wielding camera man isn’t illegal. But then again, it’s not that smart, either. I’m a little uncertain about Ms. Dominguez’s logical reasoning skills. She has said that since she’s “not shy” she wouldn’t care whether or not co-workers or opposing counsel had seen the video.

    News flash, Smarty Pants… It’s not about being “shy” or not. It’s about whether or not people can take you seriously as a lawyer after you decided to get naked for a few greenbacks and can’t seem to understand why some people might be shocked by this. It’s really weird that Dominguez seems so flippant about the whole thing–this “like, OMG, what’s the big deal?” attitude is really odd to me. She’s obviously not stupid but, come on… I’d have trouble hiring her just because she doesn’t seem to “get” that her actions might have consequences.

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