the depressingly formidable array of dilatory strategies already part of the litigator's arsenal.
The defendants' motion lacks merit because it fails to demonstrate any connection between this lawsuit and any matter over which Mr. Basch exercised substantial responsibility while retained by the Authority. The fact that Mr. Basch was once employed by the defendant Authority and is now a member of the firm that represents the plaintiffs in this lawsuit is not in and of itself a reason to disqualify plaintiffs' counsel. See District Council 33, 469 A.2d at 1054. DR 9-101(B)'s prohibition is more specific than general: it bars a lawyer's participation in matters over which the lawyer had responsibility as a public employee. The rule does not explicitly define the term "matter," but it has been read to describe a discrete and isolatable transaction or set of transactions between identifiable parties. See Formal Opinion 342, 62 A.B.A.J. at 519. The Pennsylvania courts have adopted no one definition of the term "matter" in this context, but they have acted to disqualify former government lawyers who seek to represent parties in disputes involving transactions for which they had substantial responsibility as public employees.
The defendants do not identify the specific transactions, projects, or contracts on which Mr. Basch worked while retained as special counsel to the Authority that might bear on the Caracciolo's claim. Instead, they "presume" that Mr. Basch's responsibilities included defending the Authority against plaintiffs like the Caracciolos. This nebulous description of Mr. Basch's involvement with the Authority's legal matters, without more, provides no basis for suspecting Mr. Basch of manipulating his public responsibilities for private gain, or of using confidential information to compromise the Authority in this suit or in any suit like this one. In short, the defendants have pointed to nothing in Mr. Basch's former duties for the Authority that creates even the appearance of impropriety in his firm's continued representation of the plaintiffs.
The fact that Mr. Basch may have acquired a better than average working knowledge of the Authority's administrative operations does not lead to a contrary conclusion. Lawyers who acquire legal or administrative expertise in the public sector, and who subsequently put that knowledge to use in their private employment, are not acting unethically. Indeed, the opportunity to acquire such expertise attracts capable lawyers to government service, thereby serving the public's interest in quality representation. It is not this general acquisition of knowledge about an agency's activities that DR9-101(B) was intended to deter, but rather the actual or apparent exploitation for private gain, and frequently to the Government's detriment, of information about particular transactions or investigations involving identifiable parties. See Price, 481 F. Supp. at 378.
No such conflict has been demonstrated in this case. It would be unfair to the plaintiffs if the court were to disregard their choice of counsel on so insubstantial a showing. Accordingly, defendants' motion is denied. An appropriate order follows.
For the reasons outlined in the accompanying MEMORANDUM, it is hereby ORDERED and DIRECTED that defendants' motion to disqualify plaintiff's counsel is DENIED.