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                                         96 N.J.L.J. 1150
                                         September 27, 1973


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest
County School Attorney
Representing Civil Service Council

    This Committee has received an inquiry as to whether it is ethical for an attorney to represent both the county board of education and a civil service council which handles contract negotiations for various employees, a number of whom are employees of the same county. The attorney is counsel for the county vocational school board of education whose members are appointed and whose work is financed by the county board of freeholders. None of the employees of the school board is a member of the civil service council.
    We have dealt with the subject of conflict of interests on many occasions and in particular with those conflicts which arise in the context of public employment. In Opinion 106, 90 N.J.L.J. 97 (1967), we dealt specifically with the county attorney and the conflicts involved in his representation of private clients before various county agencies and we said that it is improper for the county attorney or his associates to represent private clients before such agencies. What was said about the county attorney applies equally to attorneys representing other county boards and agencies whether they be considered autonomous or not. The attorney for the county vocational school board of education is a member of the official family of the county. In the words of Opinion 106, "his conduct must be such as to prevent any inference arising that he is using his public office for private gain." In representing employees in contract negotiations with the county, he is inviting just that inference and, accordingly, such representation would be improper so long as he remains one of the county attorneys.

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