92 N.J.L.J. 831
December 18, 1969
Conflict of Interest -
Representing Zoning and Planning Boards
Again we are asked for our opinion as to whether it is proper
for an attorney to represent both the board of adjustment and the
planning board of the same municipality.
In our Opinion 127, 91 N.J.L.J. 262 (1968), the same question was presented. We referred in that opinion to previous opinions of this Committee stating that an attorney cannot represent more than one agency of the municipality if there is or may be a conflict of interest in a particular situation. See also N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinions 67, 88 N.J.L.J. 81 (1965), 117, 90 N.J.L.J. 745 (1967). We referred also to decisions of our Supreme Court criticizing the representation of more than one agency in the same municipality because of the potential danger of conflict inherent in such representation. See Schear v. Elizabeth, 41 N.J. 321 (1964), Dolan v. DeCapua, 16 N.J. 599 (1954), Wilson v. Long Branch, 27 N.J. 360 (1958).
Our Opinion 127 (1968) was limited in its application to the factual context set forth in the inquiry. It is apparent, however, that an attorney cannot possibly foresee all the possible situations where conflicts may arise between the two boards. Accordingly, it is our opinion that the potential of conflict between the two boards is so inherent in their different duties, that an attorney should not undertake to represent both boards in the same municipality.