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A 70-lawyer firm in Hollywood, Fla., has filed a suit aimed against the state bar’s ban on noncompete agreements covering law firm partners and associates. The bar takes the position that clients should have the right to select whatever attorneys they want, even when lawyers change firms. But the bar’s stance may have been weakened in the wake of a 1997 appellate ruling that upheld an employment agreement in which a couple of lawyers had to pay their ex-firm 75 percent of all fees earned from clients they took with them to another firm. Some critics of noncompete clauses also view them as unlawful restraints on legal trade.

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