The Florida Bar

May 23, 1977
An attorney may not perform any legal services for the trustee in a Chapter X proceeding pending before the judge for whom he is a former law clerk.

Note: Judicial conduct is governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Judicial Ethics Committee issues opinions interpreting this Code.

CPR: EC 9-3; DR 9-101(B)
Opinion: ABA Informal 1092

Chairman Sullivan stated the opinion of the committee:

This inquiry comes from a former law clerk to a federal judge who is now an associate in a firm which represents the trustee in a Chapter X proceeding pending before the judge for whom the inquirer clerked.

While he was with the court, the inquirer screened proposed orders submitted to the judge by a special master, sat in on certain hearings and discussed those proceedings with the judge.

He asks whether his service with the federal court precludes his performing legal services for the trustee on matters involved in the bankruptcy which have not previously been before the court.

A majority of the Committee is of the opinion that he is precluded and may not perform any legal services in connection with the bankruptcy.

DR 9-101(B), which governs this inquiry, provides:

A lawyer shall not accept private employment in a matter in which he had substantial responsibility while he was a public employee.

Such employment would create an appearance of impropriety even if none existed. EC 9-3. See also, ABA Informal Opinion 1092.

A minority of the Committee believes that the former law clerk is disqualified to act only in those matters in the bankruptcy proceeding where there was some controversy before the special master or district judge or which involved the exercise of judicial discretion and which occurred prior to the time the law clerk left government service.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]