Taking stock of the present state of the law on law partner expulsion. Employment attorney Wayne N. Outten.
This article originally appeared in Law Journal Newsletters’ Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report, September and October 2000. For more information, visit www.ljnonline.com.
How secure are law partners in their positions when other partners want to expel them from the firm? Historically, the courts have seldom had to address that question. Beginning in the mid-1990s, however, the involuntary expulsion of law partners has been the subject of numerous lawsuits. Thus, the time is ripe to take stock of the present state of the law on law partner expulsion.
The law governing law partner expulsion has substantive and procedural components. The substantive component concerns the reasons for which a law firm may expel a partner, such as, for example, the type of conduct by a partner that might justify expulsion. The procedural component concerns the due process requirements, if any, that a firm must observe in expelling a partner, such as notice and a right to be heard.