Finding truth in a House of Lies subplot

Admittedly, I am late to the dance. As usual.

I just watched my first episode of Showtime’s House of Lies this past weekend. I think I started with Season 1 or 2 – where Marty and the gang of super dressed consultants learn their firm has just been sold to a new company. This means new leadership, ownership and the inevitable conflict between Marty’s team and the new bosses. (predictable)

While I will withhold comment on my personal opinion on the show’s overt crassness (is that even a word?) I did find myself following one small plotline with great interest.

No, not the clear sexual tension between Marty and cute blonde co-worker, but the whole NON-COMPETE subplot.

You know the part where Marty is unhappy, has client loyalty and decides he will open his own firm.

And then his old boss (yeah, the West Wing guy) reminds him he has a 2 year non-compete.

And there is the reference that if he bolts – they will sue the $2000 dollar pants and $3000 shoes off of him and make his life miserable.

And then the part where Marty clearly thinks old boss is going to help him in the non-compete battle, even going so far as to release him from the agreement because he made the guy millions of dollars.

And we are left with Marty, expensive crystal high ball in hand enjoying brown liquor on his million dollar apartment balcony, looking puzzled and shocked.

Spoiler alert: I read ahead. He starts his own firm. I only hope the crafty and creative writers of this show write in the reality of a non-compete battle.

It is nasty. Expensive. You lose clients over it. You lose sleep over it. Your friends don’t stay your friends and in the end, usually, everyone loses – at least something.

I hope they don’t take the shortcut of some kind of quick resolution fueled by blackmail or threats. Because frankly, that is just fiction.

So, I will keep watching and waiting for a real portrayal of business litigation over an executive’s non-compete.

I know, I know, such real life drama cannot be found on stage or screen, just in the court room. But friends, I do hope you take a lesson from Marty: don’t be surprised when your ex-boss won’t stand up for you. Don’t be shocked to hear someone say your non-compete will be enforced against you and that your hard work and financial success for the company don’t change that. And lastly, don’t be surprised when you must decide between (a) an expensive legal battle or (b) leaving your industry and expertise or home for a few years in order to avoid the expensive legal battle.

Need help with a Virginia non-compete?

We would be happy to help.



Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at