Risk Update

Firms Fighting (Part 1) — Attorney Non-competes Not Enforceable

In-House Attorneys Cannot Be Bound By Non-Competes In Ohio” —

  • “If you’re an Ohio in-house attorney and you value your freedom to make career moves, then you’re in luck. On Feb. 7, the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct issued an opinion letter stating that in-house counsel cannot be bound by non-compete agreements.”
  • “Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct 5.6(a) states that a lawyer may not participate in an ‘agreement that restricts the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement.’ There is a strong public policy allowing parties to be represented by the counsel of their choice, and any agreement that restricts an attorney’s ability to practice would undermine that public policy.”
  • “The board clarified that if an in-house attorney has both business and legal job functions, the attorney may still agree to a non-compete that covers their business services, so long as it does not prevent them from practicing law after their separation of employment.”