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Lawyer reprimanded for enforcing associate’s separation agreement

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A Clark County attorney was reprimanded Tuesday by the Indiana Supreme Court over terms of a separation agreement he enforced against an associate who left the firm.

“The Court concludes that Respondent violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 5.6(a) by making an employment agreement that restricted the rights of a lawyer to practice after termination of the employment relationship,” reads the per curiam opinion in In the Matter of: Karl N. Truman, 10S00-1401-DI-55. “For Respondent's professional misconduct, the Court imposes a public reprimand.”

According to the court, the agreement “provided that only Respondent could notify clients that Associate was leaving, prohibited Associate from soliciting and notifying clients that he was leaving, and prohibited Associate from soliciting and contacting clients after he left. The Separation Agreement also included provisions for dividing fees if Associate left the firm that were structured to create a strong financial disincentive to prevent Associate from continuing to represent clients he had represented while employed by the firm.”

The associate left the firm after six years in 2012, and the opinion notes that he contacted clients, informed them of his departure, and told them they could choose to be represented by him or Truman. Later, Truman filed a complaint with the Disciplinary Commission against his former associate. That matter was settled through mediation.

“Immediately after the Commission began its investigation in this matter, Respondent discontinued his use of the Separation Agreement, and he has not enforced any similar provisions against any other former associates,” the opinion notes.

Parties stipulated that Truman also violated Rule 1.4(b), failure to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit clients to make informed decisions regarding representation.

In a footnote, the court explained, “Without addressing the exact parameters of this rule, the Court accepts the parties’ stipulation that Respondent violated this rule for the purposes of resolving this case.”
 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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