101 N.J.L.J. 113
February 9, 1978
Prior Associates Using Same Building
Inquiry is made by a lawyer who is a township prosecutor asking if the term "office associates" used in R. 1:15 includes attorneys who previously shared the same suite, but now have separate offices located in the same two-story building, the building owner's law firm located on the second floor, the inquirer's office on the first floor, each entered by a separate outside door. The facts presented show no common use of facilities such as conference room, entrance door, library, general purpose room, or the like.
R. 1:15(b) defines the term "office as associates" to include "attorneys who share common office facilities." We hold that where two or more attorneys are located in different office suites having separate office entries, waiting rooms, libraries, work rooms and conference rooms, the fact that the attorneys are located in the same building owned by one of the attorneys whether or not sharing parking lot, rest-room facilities, a main building entry, elevators, or stairway, will not constitute them "office associates" within R. 1:15-5 (b). Opinion 22, 87 N.J.L.J. 13 (1964), Opinion 74, 88 N.J.L.J. 357 (1965), and Cf., Opinion 185, 93 N.J.L.J. 505 (1970), where the common ownership of the building was the determining factor.
We, also, hold that the "office associate" relationship existing prior to the complete physical separation of facilities does not continue thereafter, provided these attorneys keep their law practices separated.