With respect to the junior associate and engineer you are hoping to bring with you to AWC, what are the legal risks associated with trying to recruit them, and how should you conduct yourself in light of those risks?
You are not a lawyer, and are not expected to have definitive answers to legal questions. You are supposed to be a manager with educated instincts about legal problems, including an understanding of broad legal doctrines, the ability to spot where legal issues will have an impact on a business arrangement and the individuals involved, and the ability to evaluate in a preliminary way how legal considerations shape risks and opportunities. You are asked below to address legal issues in a business context from the point of view of a manager. You should in your Response Memo show that you understand general legal principles and can apply them to specific facts. Be sure to respond to all questions presented, preferably in the order in which they are askedYou have a background in environmental engineering. You work for Environs, Inc. (“EI”), a large consulting firm. EI claims to be interested in serving clients of all sizes, but in fact focuses its energies on only its big clients. The smaller clients get low priority, and their problems are left in the hands of relatively junior people like you. You prefer to work with small clients, and in the past six months you have been talking to three classmates from college about joining together to start your own company. One of the three, Hingis Martina, also works at EI. The new company will be called the AreaWide Consulting (“AWC”). AWC will concentrate on the problems of smaller clients, and you think you can outperform firms like EI in that market.
The discussions have become more serious in the last month, and you and the other three have now agreed to leave your current jobs in time to launch AWC in eight weeks. You plan to tell EI in six weeks that you are leaving, and give them two weeks notice.
There are several small clients at EI for which you or Martina has had primary responsibility. You are hoping to take them with you to EI. There is a very junior analyst and a computer software engineer at EI who have worked a lot with you and Martina, and you think they would probably like to come with you.
Yesterday, a senior partner at EI called you into her office. She said “I want you to know that I think highly of your work. One of our biggest clients, Large Co., Inc. has just sent us a project that they want done in the next six months. It is a very big piece of work, and it is going to be hard to get it done in just six months. I’m going to be the partner-in-charge, but in fact I have too much to do to really run this. I want you to be in charge day-to-day. There is a meeting with Large Co. next Monday afternoon, and I want to bring you along, introduce you, and explain your role. Come by my office on Monday morning, and you and I will plan how to approach the project and the client.”
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