109 N.J.L.J. 425
May 20, 1982
Office Space Shared with
Others (Prior Opinions Overruled)
We have been asked for opinions by two different attorneys
posing essentially the same questions with somewhat different
facts. In the first situation the inquirer is a partner in a
two-lawyer office with two full-time secretaries. An additional
lawyer, not associated with the firm, shares office space. The
individual offices of the lawyers are situated so that they all
exit into a common secretarial area. There is a common entrance and
waiting room. The building in which the partnership practices has
other offices and stores. The son of the lawyer who shares space
with the partnership desires to rent a vacant room in the
partnership office to conduct a mortgage business. He will have his
own secretary who will share space with the lawyers' secretaries in
the common area and will have his own phone number. He will also
share the common entrance and waiting room and have a sign on the
outside of the building. The partnership may do some legal work for the mortgage company but it has no interest in the mortgage company.
In the other situation, a single practitioner shares office space with a Certified Life Underwriter in a building they own. Each of them has his own office, separate telephone, separate clients and separate secretaries who share a common waiting room.
Occasionally one secretary answers the telephone for the other. The common entrance door has signs identifying one as an attorney and the other as a CLU.
We believe both of these arrangements are proper, so long as care is taken to maintain the separate practices and identities of the businesses and professions involved and in particular that the confidences of the clients of the attorneys are preserved. To the extent that our former opinions on this subject, Opinion 129, 91 N.J.L.J. 365 (1968), and Opinion 433, 104 N.J.L.J. 204 (1979), are inconsistent with this opinion, they are overruled.