89 N.J.L.J. 497
August 4, 1966
Attorney on Municipal
An inquiry has been made by an attorney who asserts that he has been a resident of X municipality for 40 years and that most of his practice in X municipality is concerned with real estate. He is the attorney for a local savings and loan association and local commercial bank. He appears before the planning board and zoning
board of the municipality on behalf of private clients. He presently holds no official position with the municipality.
The attorney has been asked by the Mayor and Council of the municipality to accept an appointment as chairman of a three-man committee to be appointed by the Mayor and Council for the purpose of advising with professional assessors who are to be engaged by the municipality in the reassessment of land values in the municipality. His knowledge and experience of real estate values within the municipality would be valuable to it. However, his practice, which is almost entirely local, requires him to continue to appear on behalf of private clients before the local planning and zoning boards. The inquirer states that, if accepting this appointment will preclude his ability to appear before these local boards, he will decline the same.
Question: May he accept the appointment as chairman of the three-man committee?
It is obvious from the facts set forth by the inquirer that he has in the past, and presently does, and will in the future, represent several clients owning land within municipality X, whose land values for tax purposes will undoubtedly be affected by the reassessment program.
Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 6, prohibits the representation of conflicting interests except by the express consent of all concerned, and in the event one of the clients is a
municipality that consent is generally not available. See this Committee's Opinion 4, 86 N.J.L.J. 357 (1963).
It is therefore the opinion of this Committee that the inquirer should not accept the appointment by the Mayor and Council to the committee which is directly concerned with the reassessment of land values within the municipality.