Non-competes for in-house lawyers and some ethics issues with that in New Jersey

An interesting article, Corp. Counsel, Vol. 12, Feb. 2006 at 24, explores the mini-controversy at BASF’s New Jersey law department following its general counsel’s requested that in-house lawyers sign non-compete agreements.

Not so fast, some of them demurred, because a professional practice rule in New Jersey prohibits “an employment agreement that restricts the rights of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship.” The New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics is expected to consider the issue early this year and rule on it.

Lawyers who are intimately involved with their company and familiar with strategic decisions do represent a risk, if they decamp, but there may need to be other solutions than non-compete provisions.

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