RPC 1.9(A) Interpretation

RPC 1.9(a) provides in pertinent part: (a) a lawyer who has represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter: (1) represent another client in . . . a substantially related matter in which that client's interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client consents after full disclosure of the circumstances and consultation with the former client; or (2) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client. . . . In State v. Bellucci, 81 N.J. 531, 538, 410 A.2d 666 (1980), the Court recognized that "a constitutionally suspect conflict arising from joint representation does not depend on a joint trial. " 81 N.J. at 539, 410 A.2d 666. An attorney's duty as an advocate begins prior to trial and continues not just through trial but after it is over. Land, supra, 73 N.J. at 29, 372 A.2d 297. Thus, an attorney is forbidden from revealing client "confidences or secrets" after representation has been formally terminated. Bellucci, supra, 81 N.J. at 539, 410 A.2d 666; DR 4-101. In Bellucci, supra, the Court was presented with the classic situation where one attorney represented co-defendants in the same matter. 81 N.J. at 535, 410 A.2d 666. That Court held that prejudice will be presumed once there is a showing of a potential conflict. Id. at 543, 410 A.2d 666