A recent issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly features Russell Beck in an article titled “Ethical rule fails to free attorney from noncompete.”

The article covers a decision by the Business Litigation Session of the Massachusetts Superior Court that the rules of professional conduct governing the practice of law do not excuse an attorney from complying with the restrictive covenants he had agreed to when he sold his business, as the business was not engaged in the practice of law. The decision was entered in the case titled The Advocator Group, LLC, et al. v. Arruda.  The article was written by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reporter Kris Olson.

Massachusetts Lawyers WeeklyIn the article, Russell Beck is quoted as follows:

Boston lawyer Russell Beck said Arruda further defines the contours of Rule 5.6, which, despite a common misperception, does not prohibit all lawyer non-competition agreements.

Though the rule restricts lawyer noncompetes to a significant degree, the SJC has made clear the rule does not mean that the mere fact someone is a lawyer exempts that person from abiding by such clauses, Beck said.

By Beck’s count, there are at least five exceptions to the general proposition that lawyers cannot by bound by noncompetes. Those include an express agreement for a retirement benefit, the sale of a law practice, and a straight forfeiture agreement like the one at issue in the 1997 SJC case Pettingell v. Morrison, Mahoney & Miller, which Kaplan cited.

The exceptions also include an agreement requiring some payment to a lawyer’s soon-to-be-former firm because the lawyer’s departure jeopardizes the survival of the firm, Beck said.

Arruda fits into the fifth category, which permits non-competition agreements to the extent they apply to work other than in the capacity of a lawyer.

“Narrow restrictions that do not implicate the practice of law will be enforceable, even as applied to a lawyer,” Beck said. “That goes for in-house counsel as well.”

For up-to-the-minute analysis of legal issues concerning noncompete agreements in Massachusetts and across the United States, read Russell Beck’s blog, Fair Competition Law.

eck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.

The Wall Street Journal featured Beck Reed Riden LLP’s noncompete agreement experience. In 2016, the White House issued a report entitled, “Non-Compete Agreements: Analysis of the Usage, Potential Issues, and State Responses,” relying in part on Beck Reed Riden LLP’s research and analysis, including its 50 State Noncompete Survey.

Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized; it includes:

  • Over twenty two years of working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
  • Assisting the Obama White House as part of a small working group to develop President Obama’s Noncompete Call to Action
  • Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (5th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2015), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete cases
  • Drafting and advising on legislation for the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
  • Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
  • Founding and administrating the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
  • Establishing and administrating the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,600 members around the world
  • Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm

In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2019 Chambers USA Guide, which stated that Russell Beck is a “terrific” attorney, who “is an excellent choice of counsel regarding noncompete agreements and the resolution of restrictive covenant disputes.” Chambers noted that Russell “basically wrote the new Massachusetts statute on noncompetes” and that “he’s an expert in employee mobility and nonrestrictive covenants.”

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 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.