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Non-Compete Law

Non-Compete Law

House of Lies = House of Litigation

So I had to keep watching Showtime’s House of Lies to see what happened with Marty Kaan’s threats to open his own consulting firm in LA, in competition with his long time employer Galweather Stern. And maybe I also had to keep watching because I think Kristen Bell’s character has the best work wardrobe I…[Read More]

Finding truth in a House of Lies subplot

Admittedly, I am late to the dance. As usual. I just watched my first episode of Showtime’s House of Lies this past weekend. I think I started with Season 1 or 2 – where Marty and the gang of super dressed consultants learn their firm has just been sold to a new company. This means…[Read More]

Knock Knock. Who’s There? The Truth.

Lawyer jokes are sometimes funny, and sometimes true. But any joke where the punchline confuses “lawyer and liar” is not funny to me. Not funny at all. I believe telling the truth is actually my job, and I expect my clients will take the same approach to truth telling.   

In fact, the few times I have had civil clients lie about something – to me, or the other side, even about something small – and when I found out, I have withdrawn from the case.

There are many reasons to have a zero-tolerance policy for clients that shade the truth. But one amazing fact I have learned during my litigation career is that liars never do well in the civil justice system.

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Small Business Owners Fuel Economy – But What About Non-Competes?

Just this week, I was speaking to a Virginia resident who wanted to open his own business. He has the time. The money. The talent. But he he can’t open the business.

He can’t because he signed a contract that says for a period of time he will not open a business, or work for a competitor within 15 miles of his current office.

He could (a) create jobs; (b) feed his family; and, (c) serve the public – all of this without harming his old employer or using their secret or trade secret information. So really, isn’t capitalism in favor of this kind of growth? Isn’t our unsteady economy reliant on it? 

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Why Trade Secrets Matter to Virginia Companies

Do you know the recipe for Coca-Cola? What about the exact formula of chemicals used to create Kevlar body armor? How about the client list of Wells Fargo’s commercial division?

I doubt you can answer yes to any of the above.

I don’t have access to such proprietary information – because companies often work hard at keeping secret its non-public information. They ask employees with access to company secrets to sign confidentiality agreements to agree it cannot be shared.

Under the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act and related federal laws, individuals can be prohibited from taking the secret information of one company and using it for the benefit of another company. So what information is considered a trade secret?

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“Right to Work” in Virginia

A few years ago, my mission in life became clear.

To educate my fellow Virginians on what it really means that Virginia is a “right to work state.”

Most Virginians think that “Right to Work” law means, one of the following:

  • Your boss cannot prevent you legally from accepting a job elsewhere if you get fired (ie, you have a right to work in any field you chose)
  • Non-compete agreements are not really valid because after all, you have a legal right to support your family and work
  • It is against the law to even threaten an ex-employee to sue him or her if they want to work for a competitor because Virginia is a RIGHT TO WORK where you want state

Virginia Code on Non-Competes? Not This Year

Yesterday, I traveled to Richmond – the “Capital City” – to testify (or rather, speak) in favor of HB 1187, which would make non-compete agreements invalid in Virginia.

A subcommittee of the Commerce and Labor Committee heard argument in favor of the bill (from me), and then two trade groups argued against it – the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Association of Broadcasters. The representative for the Virginia Association of Broadcasters stated that they could not spend money on promoting new personalities if there wasn’t some assurance that personality wouldn’t run across the street to the compeitior.

REALLY? And this is a statement of fact?

Predictably, the committee voted to table the bill.

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Someone asked google this the other day, and this fine person ended up on our website. While I hope they found the correct answer, I believe it is a question worth addressing again, and head on. CAN YOU BE SUED WITHOUT A NON-COMPETE?I will assume the googler *(person who typed that question into google) wondered…[Read More]


Lets say your employer wants to take full advantage of the available “social media” to make sure as many people as possible know about his company and his products and services. He suggests (or even directs) that you “link” and “friend” not only your current customers and clients but also those targets which are potential…[Read More]


Virginia employees are sometimes surprised to know, that even without a written employment contract, they are not allowed to use, take, or copy the confidential trade secret information of their employers. No really. Its against the law to take their private information. And when you leave your company, and go compete in the same industry,…[Read More]