120 N.J.L.J. 896
November 5, 1987
Conflict of Interest: Continued
Representation of Board of Adjustment
Where New Partner Formerly Represented
Plaintiff in Action Against Board
The inquirer represents a defendant Township Board of
Adjustment. Plaintiff brought an action challenging the denial of
his application for a variance to construct an office building.
Attorney B was substituted as counsel for the plaintiff in the law
suit. He conferred with the plaintiff and he prepared the trial
brief. The action is still pending. Attorney B, subsequently joined
the inquirer's law firm as a partner and has withdrawn as counsel
to the plaintiff.
Inquirer asks whether his firm may continue to represent the Township Board of Adjustment to argue the merits of the case before the trial judge.
In Opinion 353, 99 N.J.L.J. 862 (1976), we held that a public body cannot give its consent to an attorney continuing by reason of a conflict of interest. The inquirer cannot obtain the consent of his client, the Board of Adjustment, to continue.
In Opinion 342, 99 N.J.L.J. 610 (1976), we held that a former associate of a law firm which was representing a plaintiff in a malpractice action against a physician, who terminated his association with the prior law firm and joined his present firm, should not represent the physician in a pending matrimonial action, which was unrelated to the malpractice suit. We stated that the former associate and his present firm's continued representation of the physician in the pending matrimonial action would be improper.
In our opinion, the inquirer should not continue to represent the Township Board of Adjustment in this action and should withdraw as counsel.