103 N.J.L.J. 194
March 1, 1979
Conflict of Interest
Representing Kin of Former Associate
For Workmen's Compensation Against Former Firm
While X was a partner in law firm A an associate of the firm
died as a result of an automobile accident. Thereafter, X left law
firm A and became a partner in law firm B which firm has now been
approached by the next of kin of the decedent in connection with a
possible workmen's compensation action against law firm A. We are
asked whether law firm B may undertake the matter. The inquiry was
submitted by law firm B, which states that it does not believe that
it would be necessary for X to be called as a witness in the workmen's compensation proceedings. We are given no facts concerning the happening of the accident in question and we are consequently not in a position to evaluate the likelihood of X being called as a witness. This is especially important since in the usual workmen's compensation case one of the few available defenses turns upon the question of whether the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment of the petitioner, here petitioner's decedent.
Assuming that there is no dispute and no reasonable possibility of a dispute upon this issue, it would appear that the employment of law firm B is not forbidden by DR 5-101(B) because, assuming compensability, and further assuming that law firm A and its members were covered by an appropriate workmen's compensation insurance policy, the remaining issues in such a workmen's compensation case would normally not involve any peculiar or confidential knowledge of X or any members of his prior firm.