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