For years, Stamford-based Cummings & Lockwood has battled to keep its top lawyers from leaving and setting up shop nearby, draining away clients and talent.

A noncompetition clause in the partnership agreement would violate Rule 5.6(1) of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits any agreement that “restricts the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except concerning benefits upon retirement.” The rule is to assure clients their counsel of choice.