I have restrictive covenants so I can’t join a competitor… can I?
A really thorny issue and perhaps one best left to the employment lawyers amongst us. I can only give you my experience from 8 years of legal recruitment.
This month: Does my Restrictive Covenant stop me moving firms?
Legal professionals’ contracts often contain restrictive covenants regarding contacting clients and geographical area of operation. It is ultimately for the court/ tribunal to decide if these are reasonable, and it is not my intention to teach any employment or contract lawyer to suck eggs! However, in 5 years of helping people develop their careers in the legal world, I have never come across a case where an individual was truly stopped from moving firms by their RC. Firms will sometimes ask for copies of the existing contract to check the RC and determine if they are happy with it. But essentially to restrict someone so much that they were totally barred from moving to any firm in the vicinity of their home district would seem too harsh to be enforced.
New firms can help a lot. They can arrange for you to work, for the allotted amount of time, from a different office out of the geographical area specified. They can keep your name off the company website and keep you in the “back room” for the specified length of time.
Ultimately it would take a fairly ruthless and rather obstinate firm to actually progress through to enforcing restrictive covenants with a departing employee. So long as you don’t start your new role with a poaching attack on the clients of your previous firm, the transition should be able to be managed cleanly without upsetting anyone.
Everyone is, after all, an individual just trying to find a role, firm, location and work area that best suits their own life, work style and preferences.
My advice – don’t burn bridges, handle the resignation professionally and RC’s shouldn’t be too much of a practical problem to career progression.