Beck Reed Riden’s Guide to Preventing Runaway Legal Fees

The current issue of New England In-House features Russell Beck’s guide for controlling legal costs, called “Prevent runaway legal fees with proper planning.”

It is a well-known fact that litigation can be a costly undertaking. In the article, Russell Beck offers a variety of practical tips to consumers of legal services for ways to keep a lid on legal fees.

For instance, in order to prevent runaway fees, Russell suggests that there should be clear lines of communication drawn at the beginning of the engagement:

The initial conversation should include a thorough discussion of your objectives and expectations. Failing to have a clear understanding of everyone’s perspectives is a recipe for problems.

For example, you may be extremely angry with the opposing party because it breached some significant contractual or fiduciary obligation. Nevertheless, unless there are other business objectives at work, you generally do not want to spend more than is necessary to bring the case to a swift and favorable resolution.

But the lawyer may hear your anger and assume you want scorched-Earth litigation, or perhaps that is the attorney’s general approach. While that approach may be what some clients want, if it is not what you are expecting, you may find that the lawyer has engaged in extensive work that is unnecessary to succeeding on the merits and which has the deleterious effect of causing the other side to dig in its heels, rather than making the payment as part of an early settlement.

Not only will you be disappointed with the result, but you will be even less happy having to pay for it.

Accordingly, the lawyer needs to understand your goals and expectations in order to come up with a strategy that best accomplishes the client’s goals and that meets its expectations.

The complete article is here. For more information about strategies for containing legal fees and what constitutes reasonable attorneys’ fees, click here.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Stephen Riden in Lawyers USA on Social Media in Litigation

Stephen Riden is featured in the September 2011 issue of Lawyers USA in an article about the intersection of social media and litigation. The article is by Lawyers USA reporter Correy Stephenson.

The article focuses on the challenges faced by litigants and their attorneys when discoverable evidence is stored on social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as cloud storage sites like Dropbox. The article is reprinted here.

Social media is implicated “in every kind of case, from corporate espionage all the way down to a fender-bender,” said Stephen D. Riden, a commercial litigator and partner at Beck Reed Riden in Boston.

The article addresses the ever-changing nature of online communications, and the obligations of parties to preserve such material.

Education may be the first step, Riden said.”Parties are typically unwilling to cough up [social media] communications,” he said. “When I inform clients of their obligation to preserve information or explain that it is discoverable, they are surprised — and resistant.”

While clients may understand that things like work e-mails are discoverable, they feel that Facebook “is a personal mode of communication,” Riden said.

In the article, Steve discusses the importance of maintaining the status quo when electronic communications are involved:

To get the importance of preservation across, “I read my clients a variation of the riot act,” Riden said. “I let them know the penalty for deleting things like a Tweet or an IM over Facebook is high and could affect the outcome of the case.”

Riden instructs clients not to delete or change anything on their social media platforms. In one case, he even had a client share his Dropbox password so he could ensure that all the information was being properly preserved.

“I tell my clients that to the extent any communication over any websites pertains to this action, don’t delete anything and keep it as is,” Riden said. “Further, don’t have any future communications about this case, including on these websites.”

Steve Riden frequently writes and speaks about commercial litigation issues, including electronic discovery.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Russell Beck Quoted in Dow Jones’ VentureWire

Russell Beck was quoted by Dow Jones’ VentureWire discussing a recent move by the Department of Energy to categorize the total cost of renewable energy projects, backed by billions of dollars in federal loans, as non-public information. The DOE’s decision was in response to requests from loan recipients. Beck’s discussion concerned whether or not a project’s total cost could be classified as a trade secret. The full story is available here. The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog mentions the post here.

Russell was quoted as in the article as follows:

Total cost of a project can be considered a trade secret, but only if a company can prove the information could give a competitor an economic advantage, according to Russell Beck, attorney with the law firm Beck Reed Riden LLP and a professor at the Boston University School of Law’s Intellectual Property program. Just because the cost is confidential doesn’t automatically make it a trade secret, he said, especially in cases where the contract is already signed with a customer as opposed to still being part of a confidential bid process. The fact that the information was open to the public, and to competitors, for several months on the government website is also likely to disqualify it from being subject of trade secret laws, Beck said.

Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Stephen Riden on EDiscovery in Mass. Lawyers Weekly

Stephen Riden was quoted in a recent Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article about a development in eDiscovery involving the closely-watched Judge Shira Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The article was written by David E. Frank. A copy of the article is available here.

In the article, Stephen describes the impact of Judge Scheindlin’s withdrawal of an earlier ruling concerning disclosure obligations of a federal agency:

Stephen D. Riden, a civil litigator at Boston’s Beck, Reed, Riden, said Scheindlin’s February ruling
created a new understanding of what government parties had to produce in response to a FOIA
request.

That understanding is now off the table, he observed.

“The guidance that the judge provided is simply no longer there,” he said. “But a lot of what was
written in her [February] decision is still relevant because it was a back-to-the-basics approach of encouraging attorneys to deal with each other in a way that is fair and open with one another.”

Stephen frequently writes and speaks about commercial litigation issues, including electronic discovery.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Russell Beck in Mass. Lawyers Weekly

Russell Beck was quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on the enforcement of confidentiality agreements against employees.

The article, which appears in the July 11, 2011, issue, covers a recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that could affect employers nationwide. The court ruled that a confidentiality clause in an employment agreement was unenforceable because it would prevent employees from having certain discussions with union representatives. The First Circuit ruled that such clauses can violate the National Labor Relations Act. The article was written by Christina Pazzanese and Thomas E. Egan. A copy of the article is available here and a copy of the First Circuit’s decision can be found here.

Russell is quoted as follows:

Russell Beck, a Boston lawyer who specializes in restrictive covenant litigation, said the ruling has far-reaching ramifications for both employers and employees.

Employers will still be able to require employees to keep the terms of employment or compensation confidential, but they will need to ensure the provisions do not violate the National Labor Relations Act, a relatively easy task that is made more complicated by “ambiguity” in Massachusetts law, Beck said.

“The real issue will be what the consideration is for the agreement,” he said, noting that continued employment is not always viewed by the courts as sufficient to justify changes to agreements with restrictive covenants and can open the door to an “under duress” defense.

The court and the NLRB have not changed from applying a balancing test to a rule of law test; they have simply applied a reasonableness test, which is consistent with pre-existing law, Beck said.

Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden LLP Featured on Boston.com

Russell Beck’s award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law, is featured in a recent post by Scott Kirsner, Globe Columnist, in Boston.com’s Innovation Economy.

In Russell’s latest post on Fair Competition Law, he provides a status update on the Massachusetts noncompete bill.  Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Stephen Riden in The Boston Globe on Supreme Court’s First Amendment Ruling

Stephen Riden is featured in a June 28, 2011, Boston Globe story about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. EMA striking down California’s law banning violent video games.  The article is by the Globe’s technology correspondent, Hiawatha Bray.

The article focuses on the impact of the Court’s June 27, 2011, ruling on local game developers

“I have heard a sigh of relief,’’ said attorney Stephen Riden, a partner at Beck Reed Riden LLP in Boston who works with video game companies. Had the California law been upheld, Riden said, game companies would have had to adopt a different strategy for selling their products in the nation’s most populous state. Other states might have passed similar laws, leading to a patchwork of inconsistent and costly regulations.

“It would have changed the way that any local developer would distribute its games,’’ Riden said. “Now it’s not a problem.’’

Click here to read more about the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking First Amendment ruling, including the arguments on both sides, and to download a copy of the decision.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Russell Beck On Noncompete Agreements in Mass. Lawyers Weekly

Russell Beck was quoted in a recent Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article about a lawsuit concerning the enforcement of a noncompete agreement.  The article was written by Eric T. Berkman.  A copy of the article is available here.

In the article, Russell speaks about the challenges judges face in deciding whether to enforce a noncompete agreement:

Russell Beck, … [a] Boston attorney who represents both employers and employees in non-compete litigation, agreed that such matters often come down to the “black hat-white hat” issue.

“Courts are faced with these decisions in a very short timeframe,” said Beck, who practices at Beck, Reed, Riden. “They get a bunch of briefs and affidavits, and if they have a few hours to look at everything, they’re lucky. They really have to make their decision on a gut level, and the perceived conduct of the parties sometimes has a tremendous influence on the outcome of the case, especially where there’s a bad actor in the mind of the court.”

Russell Beck frequently writes and speaks about noncompete agreements.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

Beck Reed Riden’s Guide for Improving Noncompete Agreements

The current issue of New England In-House Counsel features Stephen Riden’s guide for improving non-compete agreements, called “Taking your non-compete agreement from good to great.”  A PDF version of the article can be downloaded here.

The guide is tailored to assist in-house counsel in crafting robust non-compete agreements.  It provides the basic requirements for an enforceable non-compete agreement in Massachusetts and suggests several provisions that can be added to existing non-compete agreements.

For instance, the article suggests the addition of a provision that can potentially extend the duration of the agreement:

Tolling provision. Say an employee leaves your company but neglects to disclose that they are leaving to work for a competitor in violation of their non-compete agreement. This is not an uncommon scenario. What happens if that breach only comes to light two months later? Assuming that the non-compete agreement has a one-year duration, that would mean the effective duration would be reduced to the 10 remaining months.

However, a clause that extends the duration of the non-compete period for the amount of time that passes before the employer learns that its former employee is engaged in prohibited activity provides additional protection.

The same clause could also toll the non-compete period for the time it reasonably takes the employer to obtain injunctive relief to halt further impermissible competition. In both of these circumstances, the tolling stops the clock for activities beyond the employer’s control and helps to ensure that the employer obtains the full benefit of its non-compete agreement.

It is important to note that, in some states, such a tolling provision can create ambiguities, which militate against its use, while in others, it may suffice to limit its reach, as a court may construe an excessive tolling period as unreasonable.

Click here for the current edition of New England In-House Counsel.

About Us

Beck Reed Riden LLP is Boston’s innovative litigation boutique. Our lawyers have years of experience at large law firms, working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and individuals. We focus on business litigation and labor and employment. We are experienced litigators and counselors, helping our clients as business partners to resolve issues and develop strategies that best meet our clients’ legal and business needs – before, during, and after litigation. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help you. Read more about us, the types of matters we handle, and what we can do for you here.

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