The headline on this article gives you a bit of a heads up when it comes to transitioning from one firm to another. Lawyers. In this case, lawyers are your friend. But which of the three are to be your most trusted resource?
That’s a more complicated question.
Let’s take a look at the three lawyers you’ll need to successfully navigate an exit and entry to a new firm. In-house counsel, outside counsel, and counsel that you have personally retained. A virtual ‘three bears’ of legal minds to evaluate your most important career move.
**for this article let’s assume you are coming from a private bank or from a firm like Goldman Sachs, and are joining a wirehouse. So a wrinkle a stitch or two away from a ‘wire to wire’ deal.
In-house counsel is going to read you the actual letter of the law when it comes to your non-compete, non-solicit, and garden leave. It will sound like you are locked in a prison with the logo of your current firm patched into your orange jumpsuit. The firm you are joining has to follow the legal protocols associated with securities law and a precedence or else they end up at the wrong end of a lawsuit. So, cold porridge from this lawyer.
Outside counsel is going to give you a bit of a more liberal read on recent cases, what is allowed or not allowed, and what the fallout has been when previous teams have strayed from the ‘letter of the law’ when leaving their firm. This attorney is basically asking you to read between the lines of legal precedent rather than giving you useful advice. Again, he is provided at your new firm’s expense, so it is in their interest to protect the firm rather than give you the ‘spirit of the law’ good stuff. This porridge is still a bit cold for our taste.
Your own personal counsel should be the legal entity that does its best to facilitate both the letter and spirit of the law. They should set up calls with others that have traveled the exact path you are about to travel and have ‘on the ground’ voices provide you with intel. Intel that keeps you in the plausible deniability camp. Again, letter versus spirit of the law. Ultimately, this the lawyer you trust and take their guidance to the bank. They are paid directly by you and are vested in your success. The right temperature of porridge.
The download here is simple. Get legal opinions from multiple parties and follow a reasonable pathway to your new firm. Letter of the law? Maybe not. Spirit of the law. Absolutely.