Imagine the following scene near the University of Minnesota on a Saturday night soon after the school adopted its affirmative-consent policy regarding sexual relations between students:

• • •

“So, this is the consent contract legal van we heard about.”

“Yes, Caitlin, my name is Jerrod Smith. I’ll be representing Spencer. You already spoke with Mary Brown, who will be representing you. She popped into the bar for a minute. Ah, here she is.”

“Hi, everyone, just checking with a couple of Caitlin’s friends to see if she is sober, not depressed, etc. Standard operating procedure, as you can see from our Web page.”

“If you’ll just swipe your phones on the terminal Stan has. Great. Stan is our driver and notary. Mary, would you like to take over for a while?”

“Sure — thanks, Jerrod. As you know, we are licensed attorneys from different firms. Conceivably, one lawyer could draft a consent agreement and submit it to both parties, but we think you are wise to each have your own representation. The form is pretty standard, but you may want some advice on one or two of the provisions. I’ll read the main provisions, and then we’ll separate for what I call the ‘nitty-gritty’ items. OK. The title is obvious: ‘Consent Contract for Sexual Relations.’ Part I says: ‘After consulting with counsel, the undersigned parties wish to express their clear and unambiguous consent to engage in certain sex acts as listed in Part V.’ Part II says: ‘The undersigned have not been pressured, threatened or otherwise coerced into engaging in these acts. The parties agree of their own free will to engage in them, and each party agrees to stop should the other party express his or her reluctance to proceed.’ Part III says: ‘The parties waive all claims for damages resulting from participating in any of the acts checked off and initialed by both parties in Part V, excluding actions for paternity and child support.’ Part IV says: ‘Neither party is under the influence of alcohol or a prescription or nonprescription drug.’ Jerrod?”

“Thanks, Mary. We’ll break now for a couple minutes to go over Part V separately. Spencer and I will run into the bar. Back soon …

“So, here we are again. If you’ll let me review the respective Part Vs, Mary, and see what we have — OK, so Caitlin has checked ‘a’ through ‘g,’ skipping ‘h’ and ‘i,’ then checking ‘j’ and ‘k’ and not adding anything under the so-called ‘anything goes’ or ‘open’ category. And Spencer is pretty much the same, except for checking ‘h.’ Can we get you to drop that, buddy? It’s pretty similar to ‘j,’ in my experience. Good, so we line up on Part V. Any questions by anyone? Right. So, Stan, if you’d come back here and bring your stamp with you. Good — the parties sign here and here, and the lawyers, of course, also sign. The date goes here, and Stan will do the honors if you just show him your driver’s license or student ID. OK, you’re free to go. Thanks for the business, and remember, you get a $25 gift card for referrals. We’re out here from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights and always by appointment. Cheers. …

“That one was pretty smooth, eh, Mary?”

“Yup, I like ’em like that. They can get icky sometimes. People should keep their pets out of these agreements. Oops — got another one over in Dinkytown, Jerrod.”

“Gotcha. Let’s go, Stan.”


James M. Dunn, of Edina, is a retired attorney.