100 N.J.L.J. 633
July 21, 1977
Conflict of Interest
School Attorney Representing
Teachers in Other Districts
The inquirer is attorney for a board of education. The
teachers and clerical employees of the board have as their
collective bargaining representative a New Jersey Education
Association (N.J.E.A.) affiliated organization. The attorney has
been approached by a representative of the N.J.E.A. who inquired
whether he would be interested in representing teachers or other
members of N.J.E.A. affiliates in controverted matters in other
We are informed that each school district has its own N.J.E.A. affiliate to which the N.J.E.A. provides a list of approved attorneys and if an approved attorney is retained, N.J.E.A. partially underwrites the expense of litigation.
The query is:
May a school board attorney undertake representation of employees in school districts he does not represent by becoming an approved attorney for the local affiliates of the New Jersey Education Association?
In view of the N.J.E.A. participation in the expense of litigation, we presume that the legal work to be performed will be in the field of labor-management relations where the association as
collective bargainer for its members has an obligation to represent and protect their interests. We are unaware of any N.J.E.A. legal service plan which has been approved by our Supreme Court. See DR 2-103(D).
The New Jersey Education Association is a professional organization which claims to represent 100,000 active, associate and retired educator members. It employs 73 professional plus 100 general staff as well as 75 negotiations consultants. It provides negotiations, grievance, legal and other assistance to over 1,000 local teacher and school employee associations as well as county and state faculty associations. Through its UniServ program it provides service to individual members and local and county associations in such areas as (1) coordination of state-national resources, including professional development, instructional improvement and human relations, (2) negotiation service, (3) contract administration and grievance adjudication, (4) local member consultation and individual service, (5) public relations and publicity, (6) legislative and political activity, (7) leadership development skills, (8) organization business management and membership promotion. These services are provided by 30 UniServ representatives located in 14 regional offices and the Trenton headquarters. In addition, six N.J.E.A. headquarters field staff members provide back-up technical assistance in the areas of organizational management, associate member services and negotiations.