102 N.J.L.J. 451
November 16, 1978
Conflict of Interest
Attorney Real Estate Salesman
Representing Buyer of Seller - P.B.A.
Attorney Defending in Municipal Court
The inquiry attorney is, also a licensed real estate salesman.
He asks two questions: if he were to sell a house, could he
represent either the buyer or seller, or if a fellow salesman in
the same office were to sell a house, could he represent either the
buyer or seller?
This Committee in Opinion 312, 98 N.J.L.J. 646, (1975), discussed the issues where the attorney was the husband of the salesman. That opinion directed a negate result where the attorney was the broker, citing ABA Comm. on Professional Ethic Informal Opinion 775 (1965). The prohibition against an attorney who is also a broker should extend to the attorney who is also a real estate salesman employed by a broker.
Where a fellow salesman sells the house, the real estate agency has a financial interest in the completion of the transaction and it would appear that DR 5-101, which relates to the refusal of employment where the interests of the lawyer may impair his independent professional judgment, would prohibit the acceptance of employment by the lawyer in this case. The disciplinary rule makes an exception where there is a consent of the client after full disclosure. The factual situation as to the interest of the attorney in the successful completion of the sale and the communication to the brokerage office would be major considerations in determining whether or not the attorney might ethically accept employment on behalf of either buyer or seller.