New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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NJSBA To Address Pollock Commission and Wallace Committee Reports Following Critical Study

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association will study and evaluate reports released today by the New Jersey Supreme Court from the Commission on the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Ad Hoc Committee on Bar Admissions.

According to NJSBA President Richard J. Badolato, the reports will be sent to the appropriate committees. “The recommendations of the Commission and Committee need to be critically studied and evaluated. It is the association’s practice to ask relevant NJSBA committees to study, take positions and make recommendations to the Board for appropriate action with regard to significant issues, and the Board has historically acted in accordance with the committee’s advice. We cannot comment on the reports until we receive recommendations from these groups. In addition, we anticipate that bar representatives will appear to voice the association’s position at public hearings scheduled by the Court for April 2003.”

The New Jersey State Bar Association has already taken positions on many of the issues addressed in the reports such as eliminating the appearance of impropriety, municipal prosecutor restrictions, and the client/lawyer relationship. Moreover, the NJSBA has a well-defined position in support of the bona fide office rule that is currently the subject of litigation in the Supreme Court. The NJSBA’s Professional Responsibility Committee will look at the Pollock Committee recommendations. The NJSBA committee previously submitted comments on the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Ethics 2000 report.

“We will critically examine admission on motion, the MJP rule, and the ability of in-house counsel to get a limited license,” said Badolato. “Both the Commission and Committee have an MJP proposal and they differ significantly. These need to be considered and appraised.”

Other issues of concern are relaxed standards for foreign lawyers and graduates of non-accredited law schools taking the New Jersey bar exam. “One of the consistent statistics repeated in the press is the large per capita number of lawyers in the state. Increasing this number by admitting more lawyers does not improve the quality of services to which the public has access,” Badolato said.

The Pollock Commission was appointed by the Court in January 2001 to review the Rules of Professional Conduct in light of the report of the American Bar Association’s Ethics 2000 Commission on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The Commission also reviewed ethical issues concerning multi-jurisdictional practice, multi-disciplinary practice, the appearance of impropriety rule, the extension of the disqualification of a municipal prosecutor from criminal defense work to members and associates in the prosecutor’s law firm, and the rule requiring attorneys to maintain a bona fide office in New Jersey.

The Wallace Committee was created by the Court in February 2001 to make recommendations regarding a number of multi-jurisdictional practice and bar admissions issues. With regard to multi-jurisdictional practice, the NJSBA again has a well-defined position that was presented to both the ABA and Wallace Committee. The NJSBA supports a rule that will provide lawyers with guidance as to what cross border activity may be permissible. However, the association believes such a rule should respect traditional restrictions on unauthorized practice. In addition, the Wallace Committee has addressed issues including admission by motion, admission to the bar examination by foreign-educated attorneys and non-accredited law school graduates, regulation of in-house counsel and transactional attorneys, and multi-jurisdictional practice. Further, the Court asked the Committee to review and report on the continued use of the bona fide office rule.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.