Date: December 16, 2021
The Muse interviewed TELG principal Adam Augustine Carter on what to do when faced with a non-solicitation agreement or clause. Adam emphasized understanding the details and how enforceable an agreement may be in your state before signing – and suggested negotiating to get the most beneficial deal.
“If you want to put me on the beach for a year, then you have to pay me to sit on a beach.”
Adam Augustine Carter
Your Questions About Non-Solicitation Agreements, Answered
Minnesota-based private wealth manager Kurt Altrichter was on the phone when it happened. He was handed a set of documents—and he just assumed they were the standard papers he’d been required to sign every year at the wealth management firm where he worked at the time.
“It got shoved at me when I was on the phone, and I just signed it without thinking about it,” he says. But about a year later—when he was planning to leave the firm—a chat with a friend led him to discover that what he’d signed included a non-solicitation agreement. He consulted an attorney and started researching.
Once he finally quit, the clause barred him from contacting any clients he’d built up at the firm. And he didn’t. But that didn’t stop the company from filing a cease-and-desist order against him….
Legal experts echo what Altrichter learned the hard way. “The most helpful thing is to just simply be aware,” says Adam Augustine Carter, an attorney and principal at The Employment Law Group, P.C. Understanding those details before signing a document or switching jobs is key, Carter says.
And remember that you don’t need to think of this (or any) agreement as a binary: sign or don’t sign. You could also look for a middle ground by negotiating with your employer. “Maybe it’s negotiable. Maybe it’s not,” Carter says. But you won’t know if you don’t try it—respectfully and professionally, of course.
If you’re being laid off, for instance, and are presented with paperwork to sign that includes a non-solicitation clause, you could ask for more severance pay to cover the time you’re under restrictions, rather than asking for the clause to be removed outright. “If you want to put me on the beach for a year, then you have to pay me to sit on a beach,” says Carter.