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                                         87 N.J.L.J. 106
                                        February 13, 1964


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest
Public Service

    The following inquiry has been submitted for our opinion:

        The newly elected mayor of our town desires to form a committee of approximately seven business and professional men primarily for the purpose of attracting new small industries to the community. Our function would be to explore methods by which this can be done and to advise the mayor accordingly. It should be borne in mind that this committee will have no official status. It will not be recognized under any statute. It is not being created by ordinance and it will not even have the approval of the governing body.

        The question now is whether or not, if I agree to serve on this committee beginning in the early part of 1964, I will still be free to accept legal matters involving the town in which I live.

    In a survey of the legal profession Dean Pound defined the profession as a "group of men pursuing a learned art as a common calling in a spirit of public service, - no less a public service because it may incidentally be a means of livelihood. "The tradition of public service, with remuneration as an incident, originated with the barristers in their Inns of Court. Originally they were men of substantial origins, often sons of the leading families in England, who were not dependent on their profession for their livelihood. These traditions were brought to this country and have been preserved and formulated by our bar associations. Drinker, Legal Ethics 5 (1963).

    A lawyer's experience and broad contacts render him especially equipped to serve on public bodies and to furnish to the public the benefit of his experience, skill and training. A municipality should not be deprived of this gratuitous advice for the public welfare. Under the facts submitted there is no apparent conflict between the work of this unofficial advisory body and the legal matters affecting the community, and therefore the attorney serving on such a committee would be able to accept matters involving the town.

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