Super Lawyers Interview with Stephen Reed about Noncompete Agreements
Stephen Reed is featured in a recent article about the enforcement of noncompete agreements. The article, published online by Super Lawyers, provides a roadmap to the negotiation and enforcement of noncompete agreements. The article focuses on the employee’s perspective of noncompete agreements, including avoiding conflict with a former employer. The article was written by Trevor Kupfer.
In the article, Attorney Reed explains how many employees first encounter a noncompete agreement:
“You get a stack of benefits documents, sign-up sheets, applications and sometimes the noncompete is tucked in there,” says Stephen B. Reed, an employment and business litigator in Boston.
Steve Reed explained how he advises parties who are entering into non-competition agreements:
“Employees have to start thinking about their restrictions, obligations and limitations from the moment a noncompete is put in front of them,” says Reed, whose firm, Beck Reed Riden, is known for its noncompete and trade secret practice. In situations where an employee emails Reed a copy of a noncompete ahead of signing, he tries to tell them what it means and gives his best opinion as to whether or not it’s enforceable. As with most things, catching it early is key. “The number of people who don’t understand them or appreciate what they mean is surprising,” he adds.
he article concludes with a discussion with Steve Reed about the process of resolving — and avoiding — disputes over non-compete agreements.
The most common outcome of these disputes is an out-of-court resolution “through creative solutions where all sides can go forward,” Reed says. These are often a win for all, since it avoids the costs of litigation and everyone gets something they want. Sometimes all it takes is everyone sitting down at a table and hashing it out, so long as all parties are willing to be flexible.
“For the old employer, it may be better to have an agreement with everyone to stay away from some key accounts than to risk the court saying, ‘No, Billy can do whatever he wants,’” Smith-Lee says. “You can negotiate anything, assuming the old employer is truly worried about something. If they’re just being vindictive, then all bets are off.”
“It’s hard to know what their philosophy is when it comes to enforcing,” Reed agrees. “Some will slap it on everybody, but never have the intent of enforcing it—it’s used as a tool to keep people from leaving. Others will not hesitate to run into court the second someone walks out the door.” Even worse: The old employer may threaten to sue the new one, Smith-Lee says, leading to a withdrawn job offer.
The attorneys estimate that the average noncompete dispute is resolved in a month or two and takes about 40 hours of a lawyer’s time. At a billing rate of $300 per hour, that would be $12,000. Litigation is another story. “These cases, unlike other civil litigation, move extremely fast,” Reed says, “but the amount of work that needs to be done in a short amount of time is tremendous, and it costs a lot of money.” While it may be done in a few weeks, it may cost $50,000 or more.
Reaching out to an attorney early is “the best tip for either side,” Reed says.
The full text of the article is here.
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.
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