114 N.J.L.J. 496
November 8, 1984
Conflict of Interest
Employment of Paralegals who
Previously Worked For Adversarial Firms .
A law firm representing Plaintiffs in toxic tort litigation
inquires whether it may ethically employ paralegals "... who have
previously worked as paralegals for adversarial firms." (Emphasis
supplied). The inquirer suggests that Opinion 525, 113 N.J.L.J. 365
(1984), which dealt with the employment of lawyers who had
experience in such matters, ought to be read as permitting the
proposed employment. Not so. In Opinion 525 we said, inter alia,
Clearly a lawyer and the firm he joins will be disqualified from handling a case in which the prior firm was or is engaged. The reason is obvious: Even if no confidences were obtained or there is no actual conflict, the presumption otherwise is irrebuttable. Further, the appearance of impropriety is pervasive. Id. at 383.
Reference to RPC 5.3 serves to confirm the applicability of Opinion 525 to the employment of "Nonlawyer assistants." Hiring a paralegal formerly employed by a firm with which the prospective employer presently is involved in adversarial matters would clearly be improper.