96 N.J.L.J. 1262
November 1, 1973
Conflict of Interest
Single Practitioner Associate of
Full-Time Prosecutor's Former Firm
This inquiry relates to the subject matter of the N.J.
Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 191, 94 N.J.L.J.
33 (1971). There we held that a law firm should not practice
criminal law in a county where the son of one of the partners and
the brother of another was a full-time prosecutor and had been a
former partner of the firm.
The present inquiry is from an attorney who terms himself a single practitioner but who states he prepares and tries the personal injury cases for the above-referenced firm pursuant to an agreement which also calls for the firm to pay costs and that the cases all be handled in the firm's name. The inquiry is whether the same disabilities attach to the inquirer as to the firm. The answer is that they obviously do.
Time and again we have stressed that positions of conflict are pertinent not only to the practice of the individual attorney involved, but to his partners and associates as well, for example, N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 74, 88 N.J.L.J. 357 (1965); Opinion 177, 93 N.J.L.J. 241 (1970); Opinion 214, 94 N.J.L.J. 600 (1971); Opinion 221, 94 N.J.L.J. 1002 (1971). This inquirer is practicing law under the name of the firm in question. If this is proper at all (which is questionable, see Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 105, 90 N.J.L.J. 53 (1967); and Opinion 259, 96 N.J.L.J. 754 (1973)), it is proper only because the inquirer is an associate of the firm in question. As such he should not engage in the practice of law in cases where the firm should not.