May 16, 2012 – Ethical dilemmas affect every lawyer’s practice. This series of questions and answers appears each month in InsideTrack. The answers, offered by State Bar’s ethics counsel org tpierce wisbar Timothy Pierce, are intended to provide guidance only and are not legal authority. Each situation will depend on the facts and circumstances involved.
I’m considering hiring an associate fresh out of law school. I’m the only tax lawyer in the area, and I don’t want him to develop a practice with me then take away clients if he decides to go out on his own. I would like to require this associate to sign an agreement not to practice tax law in this area for three years if he leaves the firm. Can I do this?
No. SCR 20:5.6 explicitly prohibits lawyers from offering or making any employment or partnership agreement that restricts the lawyer’s right to practice upon termination of the agreement.
For guidance and help in resolving questions regarding Wisconsin’s Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, visit the Ethics webpage on WisBar.