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Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct

Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct

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Published by Sam Han

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Published by: Sam Han on Jan 08, 2009
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A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making either of the following:

(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;

(b) an agreement in which a restriction on the lawyer’s right to practice is part
of the settlement of a claim or controversy.


[1] 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.
Division (a) prohibits such agreements except for restrictions incident to provisions concerning
retirement benefits for service with the firm.

[2] Division (b) prohibits a lawyer from agreeing not to represent other persons in
connection with settling a claim or controversy.

[3] This rule does not apply to prohibit restrictions that may be included in the terms
of the sale of a law practice pursuant to Rule 1.17.

Comparison to former Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility

Rule 5.6 is analogous to DR 2-108.

Rule 5.6(a) tracks DR 2-108(A) by prohibiting restrictive agreements, except in
conjunction with payment of retirement benefits. Unlike DR 2-108(A), however, Rule 5.6(a)
does not reference an exception in conjunction with a sale of a law practice, as that situation is
addressed separately in Rule 1.17.

Rule 5.6(b) is substantially similar to DR 2-108(B), except that Rule 5.6(b) prohibits
restrictive agreements in connection with settling “a claim or controversy.” DR 2-108(B) uses
the phrase “controversy or suit.”

Comparison to ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 5.6(b) is modified to track current Ohio prohibitions relative to restrictive
agreements. Specifically, Model Rule 5.6(b) prohibits restrictive agreements only in conjunction
with the settlement of a “client controversy.” The Ohio version of Rule 5.6(b) does not limit the
prohibition in conjunction with settling a claim on behalf of a client but, instead, prohibits
restrictive agreements in conjunction with any “claim or controversy.”


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