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                                         124 N.J.L.J. 1420
                                        December 7, 1989


Appointed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey


Former Judicial Law Clerk
Employed by Law Firm Representing
Clients in Matters Pending During Clerkship

    The inquirer served as law clerk to a judge who presided over various proceedings in three related litigated matters. However, inquirer asserts that he had nothing whatever to do with these matters, since the judge had another law clerk who had that responsibility. Further, the three matters have been reassigned to another judge.
    Having completed the clerkship, inquirer is now associated with a firm which represents one of the parties in each of these matters, and asks whether he is precluded from working on these matters and, if so, whether the firm may continue to participate if a "Chinese Wall" is erected between the associate and the firm with respect to these matters. Cf. Opinion 525, 113 N.J.L.J. 365, n.1 (1984); Ross v. Canino, 93 N.J. 402, 410 (1983).
    RPC 1.12(a) provides, with one exception not relevant here, that
        ...a lawyer shall not represent anyone in connection with a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a judge or other adjudicative officer, arbitrator, or law clerk to such a person, unless all parties to the proceeding consent after disclosure.


    Given the circumstances set forth in the inquiry, it is clear that the Rules of Professional Conduct are not offended and that there is not even an "appearance of impropriety" which could fairly be perceived by an informed and concerned private citizen. See In re Professional Ethics Opinion 452, 87 N.J. 45, (1981).

    As we said in Opinion 525, supra, 113 N.J.L.J. 365:

        Young lawyers should not unreasonably and unneces sarily have their careers severely stunted if ethics considerations remain intact and the public perception does not suffer.

    Neither inquirer nor the firm is ethically precluded from continuing to represent the clients in these cases.

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