Search News & Press Releases

Supreme Court Largely Agrees with NJSBA Amicus Argument

February 5, 2020
Contact: Wendy Solomon

NEW BRUNSWICK – The New Jersey Supreme Court decision on Balducci v. Cige concurs with the New Jersey State Bar Association’s amicus position that there needs to be a more robust decision-making process about the ability of attorneys to retain and serve their clients.
Read the decision here. Read the NJSBA brief here.
The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s holding, that a retainer agreement in a Law Against Discrimination (LAD) case that imposed legal fees and costs on a client even if the lawsuit failed, is invalid. But, the Court reserved comment on “ethical pronouncements” by the lower court, recommending further review for consideration by a newly created ad hoc committee.
“The New Jersey Supreme Court decision today on Balducci v. Cige concurs with the New Jersey State Bar Association’s amicus argument that there needs to be a more robust decision-making process to address what it considers the Appellate Division’s new mandates imposing ethical requirements that could significantly impact the ability of attorneys to retain and serve their clients. The NJSBA hopes to play a role in that process,” said NJSBA President Evelyn Padin. The association participated as amicus curiae in the matter of Balducci v. Cige, Docket No. A-54-18, raising concerns about the Appellate Division’s holding that imposed professional obligations not mandated by the Rules of Professional Conduct. William E. Denver, NJSBA Past President Thomas H. Prol and Edward J. Zohn wrote the brief, and Zohn argued the matter before the Supreme Court on behalf of the NJSBA.
“Although the Appellate Division’s concerns over the retainer agreement in this case are understandable, the ethical pronouncements issued in its opinion may have far-reaching and negative effects, not only on employment law attorneys and attorneys handling fee-shifting claims, but also on their clients,” said Justice Barry Albin, who wrote the majority opinion. “Some of those pronouncements appear too broad and some unsound, and others are worthy of the deliberative process by which new ethical rules are promulgated by this Court.”
The underlying matter challenged the validity of a retainer agreement of attorney Brian Cige, who handled a matter for the son of a plaintiff, Lisa Balducci. Balducci signed a retainer agreement that proposed a fee of either the greater of an hourly rate, 37.5 percent of the net recovery or the statutory fees, by settlement or award. Balducci terminated the attorney-client relationship and received a bill for fees and expenses in the amount of nearly $287,000. In addition to holding the agreement invalid, the Appellate Division held that Cige was also obligated by the Rules of Professional Conduct to communicate clearly that his fee structure was different, in that the plaintiff would be obligated to pay regardless of the success of her case. The court further held that attorneys must tell clients that if a case becomes too complex, an hourly rate-based fee could approach or even exceed any recovery, and advise of other attorneys who would represent the client on a purely contingency fee basis.
While the NJSBA took no position on the validity of the retainer agreement, it took issue with the Appellate Division’s interpretations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In reviewing the recommendations by the Appellate Division regarding providing comparative recovery to clients in similar cases or referrals to attorneys who may have experience in similar cases, the Supreme Court noted concerns with these recommendations. The Supreme Court concluded that such recommendations “require careful and thoughtful consideration and deliberation,” and that such professional standards governing attorneys are done “through the rulemaking process.”
“We have decided that the study of the professional responsibility issues should be addressed by a newly established ad hoc committee comprised of representatives of [the Civil Practice Committee, the Professional Responsibility Rules Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics], and of other representatives of the bar and bench with experience in these matters,” said the Supreme Court.
The NJSBA continues to monitor this issue and the ad hoc committee, in anticipation of any new rules resulting from this decision.

Contact: NJSBA Communications Department
Tel: 732-937-7527
Email: [email protected]


Founded in 1899, the NJSBA is the largest organization of attorneys, judges and legal professionals in New Jersey. At the core of our mission is improving the lives of our members, advancing the rule of law and serving as the voice of the profession. With 85 sections and committees, the NJSBA allows attorneys to benefit from being part of the most wide-reaching legal association in the state, while still cultivating expertise and building networks within specialized practice areas.



The New Jersey State Bar Association is committed to promoting and fostering a diverse and inclusive bar association. The Association recognizes that the broad concept of diversity includes race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age and disability. The NJSBA fosters and promotes an inclusive environment that gives value to the unique contributions of diverse individuals and organizations in all aspects of the Association.

Learn More


The NJSBA Legal and  Government Affairs Department serves as the liaison between NJSBA members and the state’s three branches of government.


The New Jersey Law Center is located at 1 Constitution Sq, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901. Need directions to the Law Center? Click on the button below to get started right away.

Contact NJSBA

NJSBA Contact Us Form
If you're looking for an attorney, click here for help.

If you cannot afford an attorney and have a civil matter, click here for Legal Services of New Jersey.

Looking for information about a specific lawyer? Contact the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection at 855-533-3863.

Have a complaint about a lawyer? Visit the Office of Attorney Ethics website. Select “Attorney Discipline” from the navigation bar for discipline of attorneys.

Contact Info

One Constitution Square
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday

Fax 732-249-2815

Email us

NJSBA Meetings and Events Calendar

From section, committee and division meetings with valuable CLE credit, to receptions and dinners and special events, the New Jersey State Bar Association regularly holds meetings so our members can meet their mandatory CLE requirements and network with the state’s largest attorney membership.

View Calendar

2024 Annual Meeting & Convention

The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Annual Meeting & Convention will be held at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa May 15-17

For more information, or to register today, visit the links below:

View more information

2024 Mid-Year Meeting

The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Mid-Year Meeting will be held at The Shelbourne Hotel, Nov. 2-9

For more information, or to register today, visit the links below:

View more information

Practice HQ Training Events

Lawyers aren't taught practice management skills, and the NJSBA is here to fill the gap — no matter whether you are just starting out, mid-career or thinking about wrapping up their practices. Our PracitceHQ is here to help with webinars, informative articles, free consultations, comparison charts and so much more.

Practice HQ Training Events


The new NJSBA member benefit Decisis will help you level-up your legal research.

Decisis gives members access to a robust database of local and federal case law is necessary information often used to structure your case. Decisis provides industry-leading tools to make legal research easier and more intuitive, and it’s a free benefit to all active New Jersey State Bar Association members.

Decisis Training Events

Networking Events

The NJSBA provides a host of networking events so members can maintain relationships with existing colleagues and make new connects. Join us at a baseball game, the hockey arena, for a community service project, or another event.

Upcoming Networking Events

Benefits Of Membership

As a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), you will join a powerful network of 16,000 legal professionals across the state of New Jersey. NJSBA membership grants you access to year-round virtual and in-person networking events, leadership and professional development opportunities, member-only discounts, educational resources to help you stay in the know and much more!

Practice Management Tools

The NJSBA provides tools lawyers need to improve their practice, from our comprehensive PracticeHQ library of resources; a career center to find your next colleague or opportunity; an intuitive and high-powered legal research platform; and a robust Member Assistance Program to connect members, and those who live in their households, with experienced counselors and resources to address mental health needs.



As an NJSBA member, you'll become part of the collective power of the NJSBA network, giving you the ability to influence legislation and caselaw in New Jersey. Let’s work together to shape the future and solve critical issues facing attorneys and the public.

Become a Member Today!


Membership helps you build and maintain a powerful network through our in-person and online events with attorneys all over the state.


Become a Member Today!

Become A Partner Organization

The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) offers an exclusive partnership opportunity to amplify your organization’s impact and drive success. By harnessing the power of the NJSBA legal community, you can connect with our vibrant network of 16,000 legal professionals from 35+ different areas of practice, unlocking unparalleled opportunities for growth and achievement.


News and Press Publications

Learn more about the accomplishments of the Association, its members and events from regular news updates, press releases, and our award-winning magazine.



Read the comments, reports, resolutions and Board of Trustee news from the state’s largest organization of lawyers, judges and legal professionals.


Statements and Positions

The NJSBA is the voice of the profession and takes public positions on a range of issues with the legal community and government officials. It also takes positions on legislation and files friend-of-the-court briefs on matters that impact the profession. 

Photo Galleries

Check out photos from recent NJSBA events.

View Photo Albums

You do not have permission to view this form.