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                                         87 N.J.L.J. 13
                                        January 9, 1964


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest
Office Associate

    An attorney, hereinafter referred to as "A," leases part of the office space of another attorney, hereinafter referred to as "B." A and B have no other business or professional relationship.
    A is a member of a municipal governing body. B inquires as to the propriety of appearing before the board of adjustment in the municipality where A is a member of the governing body.
    Attorney B suggests that R. 1:26 does not seem to apply to this situation. This Committee discussed that rule in its Opinion 4, 86 N.J.L.J. 357 (1963), and we quote therefrom:
        The history of the revision, nevertheless, makes it plain that the Supreme Court did not intend by its deletion to modify, relax or suspend in any way any applicable Canons of Professional Ethics.

    The duty of the lawyer is expressly stated in Canon 29:

        He should strive at all times to uphold the honor and to maintain the dignity of the profession and to improve not only the law but the administration of justice.

    An attorney should conduct himself so as to be above suspicion. The preamble to the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association contains the following:

        ...No code or set of rules can be framed, which will particularize all the duties of the lawyer in the varying phases of litigation or in all the relations of professional life. The following canons of ethics are adopted by the American Bar Association as a general guide, yet the enumeration of particular duties should not be construed as a denial of the existence of others equally imperative,though not specifically mentioned.

    In Reilly v. Ozzard, 33 N.J. 529 (1960), Justices Jacobs and Schettino stated in their dissenting opinion:
        ...Similarly, our courts have recently stressed that public officials should avoid not only real conflicts of interest but apparent conflicts of interest as well. Id at 553.

Lawyers should also conduct themselves in such a way as not to impair the confidence of the community in the administration of justice and government.
    Where an attorney shares office space with another attorney who is a member of a municipal governing body, it is our opinion that he cannot represent an applicant for a zoning variance before the board of adjustment of the same municipality.

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