87 N.J.L.J. 741
November 19, 1964
Municipal Attorney and
School Board Attorney as Partners
A partner in a law firm states:
One of my partners is the attorney for
the Township of X. I have been asked to act as
counsel for the Board of Education of X and Y.
1. May I accept the position?
2. Must both my partner and I withdraw from our respective representations in the event of a conflicting situation, or is it sufficient for me alone to withdraw?
The school board apparently serves two municipalities, namely X and Y. It is an autonomous body and independently selects its own
attorney. The board of education would, in most instances, operate entirely independent of the municipality.
Under the facts submitted by the inquirer the township and the board of education are distinct and separate entities, neither having any right to interfere with the other, and hence there would be no conflict.
In N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 44, 87 N.J.L.J. 297 (1964), a similar, although not an exact, situation was presented. There we held that where one member of a law firm was a councilman in a municipality, another member of the same law
firm could serve as the attorney for the board of education of the same municipality. We cautioned, however, that if and when a conflict arose, both partners should disqualify themselves.
It is our view, therefore, that the inquirer may be attorney for the board of education even though his partner is township attorney for one of the municipalities, subject to both of them disqualifying themselves in the event that a conflict arises.