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In re Truman

7 N.E.3d 260 (2014)

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In re Truman

Indiana Supreme Court

7 N.E.3d 260 (2014)

Facts

Attorney Karl Truman required his associates to sign as a condition of employment separation agreements that prevented taking firm clients when leaving the firm. The agreements provided that only Truman could notify clients that an associate was leaving and prohibited former associates from soliciting or contacting them. If a client wanted to continue working with an associate who left, the agreement required splitting fees and remitting such a large portion to Truman that it created a strong financial disincentive for the associate to keep representing any firm clients. An associate who worked for the firm for six years had substantial responsibility for representing more than a dozen clients when he left the firm. Truman insisted on enforcing the separation agreement and sent notices to all the associate’s clients announcing his departure. Not all of the notices explained that the clients could continue working with the associate if they chose, and Truman provided the associate’s new contact information only to those clients who specifically requested it. The associate nonetheless sent his clients notices explaining that they could choose either Truman or the associate to continue representing them and provided his new contact information. Truman sued the associate to enforce the agreement and settled in mediation. The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission investigated, found Truman had engaged in professional misconduct, and recommended public reprimand.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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