Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 1:10 PM

New York Judge Finds Nixon Peabody's Actions in Soliciting Taylor Wessing Attorneys A-OK

By Todd
Here's a story our readers from private industry are going to find interesting - law firms disputing the validity of a nonsolicitation agreement they agreed to.

U.K.-Germany based Taylor Wessing filed suit against Nixon Peabody, accusing the Rochester, NY based law firm of colluding with the former managing partner of Taylor's Paris office to "raid" its partner ranks after merger talks between the two firms fell through.

The complaint contended that Nixon's alleged attempts to poach 12 of Taylor's 15 nonequity French partners violated a July 2007 agreement in which the two firms promised not to recruit from each other for two years if merger talks collapsed.

Justice Kenneth Fisher ruled in favour of Nixon Peabody on all claims, affirming that the US firm had acted appropriately in its recruiting discussions and questioning the legal validity of the nonsolicitation agreement between the parties.

A Nixon Peabody spokesperson said today’s decision had, “settled all claims” with TWF.

However Taylor Wessing UK managing partner Michael Frawley said that he was surprised by the judge's findings and is in the process of reviewing the judgment for possible appeal.

He said: "This case demonstrates that these non-solicitation clauses, which are common in commercial agreements in the UK and most of Europe, are void as a matter of public policy in NY. What is disappointing is that Nixon Peabody agreed to this restriction, only for them to assert subsequently that the restriction was always unenforceable."

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