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Ethical Opinions for Clerks of the Courts
This letter is in response to your letter of July 25, 1994 seeking advice from the Advisory Committee.
In your letter you sought the Committee's opinion as to whether it would violate the Code of Professional Responsibility for Clerks of Court for you to become an Arbitrator for the American Registry of Arbitrators while you are the First Assistant Clerk-Magistrate at the Court. Your name would appear on a list of possible arbitrators that would be selected by the parties involved in the dispute.
The Committee in three previous opinions has determined that it would violate Canons 4(c) and 5(c)(1) for a Clerk-Magistrate to become involved in a private court system or mediation business. Copies of these opinions, with identifying information deleted, are enclosed with this letter. Although service as an arbitrator as part of an established Registry is somewhat less direct involvement in private dispute resolution activities than being a business partner or principal in a private court system or mediation business, in our opinion the reasoning set forth in those opinions would apply to prohibit service as an arbitrator for a fee.
We note that the Supreme Judicial Court has appointed a Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution, which may provide future additional guidance to court personnel on these issues.
We also repeat the advice we have provided you on a previous occasion concerning the letterhead which you used to request your opinion from the Committee. This letterhead identifies you as an "attorney at law". The Committee once again reminds you that Canon 3 of the Code expressly prohibits Clerk-Magistrates from engaging in the practice of law.