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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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