A recent experience with a new client brought home an age-old truism. In her case, an ounce of prevention most certainly would have been worth a pound of cure.
The story begins when we were hired to represent a client who was tasked with opening an office for a new employer. The catch is that her new employer was in the same business as her former employer, and the employment agreement from her prior position contained a non-compete clause. Clearly, she was dealing with a real potential for conflict.
Ideally, this client would have contacted us well before anything transpired. Instead, she contacted us after resigning, after accepting the new position, and after the new office was planned. Suffice it to say that by the time we got involved the parties were at odds with one another and preparing for lawsuits or possibly seeking injunctive relief, among other plans.
Had our client contacted us sooner, we could have more easily negotiated a smooth resolution for all parties involved, and then she could have gone on with her career plans. That said, we were able to successfully engineer a resolution which allowed the new employer to proceed with their plans and for the new employee to work at that location without any adverse regulatory determinations, findings, or sanctions. But we have to admit that this was a remarkable outcome.
The result that we brought about would have been far easier and far more affordable for our client had it been negotiated before-not after-the fact. In this case, the client was lucky and was able to carry on in her plans, albeit with some unneeded stress and a modest legal bill in tow. But it could have gone very, very differently.
In this particular situation, the client could have been prevented from working for the new client at the new location (or any location) and could have been subject to adverse regulatory actions. Had she not been so fortunate, she could have been left without a position, fighting a losing legal battle.
Some might argue that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission, and I suppose in this case we saw that theory tested. But we can't say that our client's case proves this theory true, and we definitely wouldn't advise this approach. To put it simply, we'd never recommend counting on luck, because sometimes you have it, but oftentimes you don't.
It was tricky to engineer an optimal outcome against the less-than-friendly backdrop that we were forced to work with. We much prefer it when a client reaches out in advance of making any bold moves like this. That said, we did what we always do and worked diligently for our client's best interests. We're happy to report that she saw a good outcome, but that positive ending serves as a stark reminder of all the ways it could have gone differently.
Steady Legal Advice to Calm Your Business Concerns
Here at Calkins Law Firm we're always on our clients' side, and we're directed by client wishes. But we also know what works best in certain circumstances; our experience informs our expertise. That's why we're happy to field questions and calls and find a successful resolution for clients well before a situation escalates. If you have a brewing legal conflict on your hands and you need to pass it off to an expert, get in touch with our team. We're happy to advise and assist, and are always in this to win it--for you.