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                                         87 N.J.L.J. 810
                                        December 17, 1964


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest
Municipal Tax Attorney

    An attorney who was replaced as municipal attorney on January 1, 1964, but who is still performing services to the municipality in the foreclosure of certain tax sale certificates assigned to his office by contract in 1961, inquires whether he may now undertake to represent a local taxpayer in the municipality in an appeal from a 1964 tax assessment. He states that none of the tax sale certificates on which he is representing the municipality involves property owned by the taxpayer appealing his assessment, nor are they otherwise the subject of the proposed appeal; he further states that he is not aware of any confidence which has been reposed with his office during his representation of the municipality as municipal attorney which in any way would touch upon the proposed prosecution of the tax appeal.
    While the particular issues involved in the cases in which he is representing the municipality on the tax foreclosures may not present any conflicts with those in the proposed appeal of the taxpayer on his assessment, the fact remains that in the foreclosure cases the attorney is representing and attempting to further the interests of his client, the municipality, and in the
proposed tax appeal he would be representing and furthering the interests of a private client whose interests are adverse to the attorney's original client, the municipality. Clearly, a lawyer representing one client cannot ethically at the same time accept a retainer from another against his first client, Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 6. Where such a conflict exists between two private clients, an attorney in exceptional cases, with the informed consent of each client, may properly act, but, as has been
noted, where one of the clients is a public agency consent is not available. Drinker, Legal Ethics 120 (1963); N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 4, 86 N.J.L.J. 361 (1963).

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