Times are tough in America…as evidenced by the demise of some of our largest financial institutions. In addition to the failures of corporate America, employees are being forced into signing unfair and over broad noncompete agreements.

For example, take the retention agreement offered by Bank of America as a part of its purchase of Merrill Lynch. Bank of America wants all of Merrill’s financial advisors to sign a new noncompete agreement which could prevent those financial advisors from taking their clients/customers with them should they ever decide to leave their employment.

A Merrill spokesman says the noncompetes don’t change Merrill’s “Protocol for Broker Recruiting.” I don’t know what is in the “Protocol” but I do know that state law controls the issue regardless of the “Protocol.”

My take: If you are one of the thousands of Merrill Lynch financial advisors, your best bet is to consult with an experienced attorney (licensed in your state) and understand the serious implications of what you are being asked to sign. I gave the same advice to Registered Rep Advisor magazine.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at