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Ghost Writing in New Jersey

January 30, 2008

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In response to a recent federal court decision that created some fear among attorneys, the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics in New Jersey issued a formal opinion as to when lawyers must disclose that they are the author of a legal document.
Essentially, the opinion states that no disclosure is required when an attorney provides limited assistance to a <em>pro se</em> litigant of limited financial means, particularly as part of an organized, non-profit program.
But disclosure must be made when the lawyer, not the <em>pro se</em> litigant, is "effectively in control of the final form and wording of the pleadings and conduct of the litigation."
The Committee recognized that courts are generally lenient to <em>pro se</em> litigants, and it would be unfair (and unethical) for a litigant to take advantage of this system by masking the involvement of an attorney.
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