Law Firms and Associations
Rule 5.6 Restrictions on Right to Practice
A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making:
(a) a partnership, shareholders, operating, employment, or other similar type of agreement that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or
(b) an agreement in which a restriction on the lawyer's right to practice is part of the settlement of a controversy between private parties.
 An agreement restricting the right of lawyers to practice after leaving a firm not only limits their professional autonomy but also limits the freedom of clients to choose a lawyer. Paragraph (a) prohibits such agreements except for restrictions incident to provisions concerning retirement benefits for service with the firm.
 Paragraph (b) prohibits a lawyer from agreeing not to represent other persons in connection with settling a claim on behalf of a client.
 This Rule does not prohibit restrictions that may be included in the terms of the sale of a law practice pursuant to Rule 1.17.
History Note: Statutory Authority G. 84-23
Adopted July 24, 1997; Amended March 1, 2003.
ETHICS OPINION NOTES
RPC 13. A retirement agreement may require a lawyer to accept inactive status as a member of the State Bar as a condition of payment of retirement benefits.
RPC 179. A lawyer may not offer or enter into a settlement agreement that contains a provision barring the lawyer who represents the settling party from representing other claimants against the opposing party.
2001 FEO 10. Opinion prohibits a lawyer from entering into an employment agreement with a law firm that includes a provision reducing the amount of deferred compensation the lawyer will receive if the lawyer leaves the firm before retirement to engage in the private practice of law within a 50-mile radius of the firm's offices.
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