End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library
As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.
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New Jersey Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
Comment - Rule 1.7
The Court has revised subparagraphs (a)(2) and (b)(2) of the recommendation of the Debevoise Committee so as to preserve New Jersey's rule that a government agency cannot consent to representation if a conflict of interest exists or if the appearance of such a conflict exists. Thus, if there is a conflict that can only be cured by consent and if a governmental entity is one of the parties that must consent, that conflict cannot be avoided and representation of one or more of the clients must be terminated.
The Court has added a paragraph (e) that preserves the effect of New Jersey case law and ethics opinions to the effect that consent to representation or continued representation is immaterial in certain cases or categories of cases when faced with conflicts or apparent conflicts. See, e.g., State v. Bellucci, 81 N.J. 531 (1980) (criminal codefendants; potential for conflict of interest required reversal of convictions and retrial); State v. Land, 73 N.J. 24 (1977) -(same)-, In re Cohn, 46 N.J. 202, 211-13 (1966) (improper here for attorney to accept retainer from client who was to be main witness in pending matter against another of his clients). In these cases in which consent will permit continued representation despite a conflict of interest, it must be an informed consent based on a "full and timely" disclosure of the conflict. In re Dolan, 76 N.J. 1, 8-13 (1978); In re Kamp, 40 N.J. 588, 595-96 (1963); see also In re Nichols, 95 N.J. 126, 131 (1984) (transactions between attorney and client); In re Gavel, 22 N.J. 248,262 (1956) (same).
The Court has also included language in new paragraph (e) so as expressly to preserve in New Jersey the "appearance of impropriety" rule. See, e.g., In re Garber, 95 N.J. 597, 609-10 (1984); Reardon v. Marlayne, Inc., 83 N.J. 460, 470 (1980); Perillo v. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, 83 N.J. 366, 373 (1980); Higgins v. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, 73 N.J. 123, 128-29 (1977). That "appearance" rule "is intended to instill public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession." In re Opinion No. 415, 81 N.J. 318, 323 (1979); see id. at 323-24.