Ohio R. Prof'l. Cond. 5.6

As amended through January 10, 2024
Rule 5.6 - Restrictions on Right to Practice

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.

Ohio. R. Prof'l. Cond. 5.6


[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."