Ghost Writing in New Jersey

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 pro se litigant of limited financial means, particularly as part of an organized, non-profit program.

But disclosure must be made when the lawyer, not the pro se 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 pro se litigants, and it would be unfair (and unethical) for a litigant to take advantage of this system by masking the involvement of an attorney.