107 N.J.L.J. 113
February 12, 1981
Conflict of Interest
Employment by Two Law Firms
Also by State Governmental Agency
The inquirer poses two questions. The first is one which we
will accept. The second involves a dispute as to fees and with
respect to this, we refer the inquirer to R. 1:20-A which creates
the Fee Arbitration Committees. Those committees have jurisdiction
over such an inquiry.
The first inquiry is whether the lawyer may work for more than one law firm and be paid by each on a division of fees based on services rendered. So long as the attorney is not engaged in matters for one firm in which the other firm has an adversary position and so long as the attorney is not exposed to information in one firm which would be detrimental to the clients of the other, there is no reason to prohibit employment by both firms.See Opinion 105, 90 N.J.L.J. 53 (1967), and Opinion 224, 94 N.J.L.J. 1206 (1971).
The inquirer also requests advice as to whether, in addition to these relationships there is any objection to his being employed
by a department of the state government as a part-time employee. It is represented that the position in question does not require a license to practice law. Here again, we find no ethical impediment provided the rules of the employing agency do not preclude such other employment and provided further that (1) the law firms do not have any business with the governmental agency involved, that (2) the inquirer's employment with this agency does not result in his obtaining information of a confidential or privileged nature which could be used to the advantage of the law firms and the detriment of the governmental agency and that (3) the employment does not violate the provisions of N.J.S.A. 52:13-l(D), et seq.