July 15, 1965
Conflict of Interests
School Board Members
This inquiry concerns the propriety of an attorney, who is an
appointed member of a board of education under Title 18, Chapter 6,
of the Revised Statutes, in representing individual clients before
the municipal court and various boards of the municipality, such as
the zoning board, planning board, housing authority, etc.
In N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion 41, 87 N.J.L.J. 285 (1964), this Committee held that an attorney for a board of education elected under Title 18, Chapter 7, was not barred from representing individual clients before the various boards of the same municipality in which the school district was located. That was an elected board of education and as such was an autonomous body. See Botkin v. Westwood, 52 N.J. Super. 416 (App.
The present inquiry involves Chapter 6. The inquirer is appointed by the mayor. Chapter 6 further provides for the appointment of a board of estimate which has veto power over the budget prepared by the school board.
The board of estimate consists of five members, two from the governing body, two from the school board, and the mayor. The municipality, therefore, has some control over a board of education functioning under Chapter 6.
In Opinion 37, 87 N.J.L.J. 190 (1964), we held that it would not be proper for an attorney, who was a member of the board of health, to appear before the other municipal agencies or the municipal court of the municipality in which he holds office. We believe the same reasoning applies to the instant inquiry.
It is our opinion that it would be improper for an attorney, who is an appointed member of a board of education functioning under Title 18, Chapter 6, to represent individual clients before
the municipal court or the various boards of the municipality.