Every year, the New Jersey State Bar Association holds its Annual Meeting in Atlantic City. This year, for the first time ever, the Annual Meeting went virtual. Lawyers from CSG made history by participating in an ethics panel which drew the highest number of participants in the State Bar’s history.
Ronald Israel, Esq., Member, and I were on a panel presenting “The Art of Avoiding Conflicts.” Joining us were a Presiding Chancery Judge, the Hon. Jeffrey Jablonski and a Complex Commercial Civil Division Judge, the Hon. Mary Costello, as well as a prominent criminal defense practitioner Brian Neary, Esq. (Law Offices of Brian Neary) and a well-known and well-respected family law practitioner and mediator, Grace Dennigan, Esq. (Dennigan, Cahill and Smith).
The seminar drew 992 participants from many different practice groups who were highly engaged. The interactive presentation highlighted concerns of the bar in the areas of Joint Defense Agreements, transitioning to and from private sector-public sector employment, investing in ventures with clients, and representing clients with Incapacities.
Joint Defense Agreements are helpful to clients but tricky to navigate when conflicts arise. Be careful when drafting and think ahead for exit strategies.
Investing into ventures with a client requires that you scrupulously follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. Review RPC 1.8 and familiarize yourself with the “fair and reasonable” standard set forth in case law.
Clients with Incapacities present fact-sensitive challenges. Be aware of your responsibility to maintain as normal an attorney-client relationship as possible and of your obligation to protect their confidentiality. For minors, guardians may need to be appointed by the court. Check RPC 1.6 and 1.14.
Finally, transitioning between public and private employment has a few sets of guidelines to follow. Generally, see RPC 1.11 ( the “6 month rule”). But be aware of lifetime bans when your participation reaches a certain level, one-year bans for certain state officials and two-year bans on casino-related representation, all under the Uniform Ethics Code.