Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Ghostwriting in New Jersey: A Follow-Up
Here is a new Law.com (N.J. Law Journal) story on that federal court's (per U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne Bongiovanni) refusal to allow silent attorney ghostwriting for a pro se litigant (and by implication, some other "unbundled" representations). See our original post here. David Giacalone at SHLEP was kind enough to alert me to this new article about the decision which we, David, and originally William Freivogel had noted before. Here is David's original post too, plus Carolyn Elefant's follow-up post on Legal Blog Watch.
Notice that the N.J. decision seems to rest on the lack of authorization in N.J. rules for such discrete-task or "limited" representations, and thus may extend beyond undisclosed ghostwriting. The judge wrote, "This is not to say that this court does not believe that unbundled legal services, in some form, may be beneficial to the equal administration of justice. But, when viewed under the current RPC [in New Jersey], ghostwriting is antithetical to the public interest." The affected lawyer says he will seek reconsideration.
Updated 3/25: Nice post by Suffolk's Andy Perlman on the N.J. case, over at Legal Ethics Forum. See also his exchange with a thoughtful commenter, Steve Berenson at Thomas Jefferson. Further views and reader comments at Divorce Law Journal.
Before I was a lawyer, I often helped people with small laims cases in Massachusetts. I recall that the rules there said that nonlawyers could "participate" in such cases, but could not represent litigants. Luckily, judges were pretty lax about what "participation" meant.
Posted by: Frank | Mar 21, 2007 2:03:36 PM