New Year’s Resolution – Starting a New Business in 2016?

New Year’s Resolution – Starting a New Business in 2016? 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

I have a great New Year’s Resolution for you this year. Repeat after me:

“In 2016, I will do my best not to get sued by my ex-employer.”

Isn’t that a great resolution? Saves time, big money, emotional energy, etc. A winner. But how do you keep this resolution? Does it require a fitness membership?  A personal coach? Accountability? An app? A fitbitt? 


It requires some general sense, and a basic understanding of the law. 

Virginia law is created in a few different ways: (1) the politicians write and adopt a low (Code), the judges create a body of law over years (common law). In Virginia, the law basically says you can’t do the following:

1. Tortiously interfere with a business expectancy or contract

2. Breach your duty of loyalty

3. Breach your contract

4. Conversion

5. Violate Virginia Computer Crimes Act

6. Violate Virginia Trade Secret Act

Get it? Just don’t do those things and you won’t get sued. Resolution made!

Oh wait. I forget. Lawyers, politicians and judges don’t use plain words. They frankly over complicate things, so allow me to really advise you how to keep this resolution. Don’t:

  1. Access your old work computer / emails / files / client information after you quit, leave or are terminated. Can’t do it. Doesn’t matter if the password still works or not. Can’t do it. 
  2. Keep your client information, files, contact information, etc. No, you can’t print out a client list (or email it to yourself, or take it on a disc, thumb drive, or upload it to a Google Document, etc.) after you give notice or minutes before you quit, are terminated, leave etc.
  3.  Ask your clients to come with you – while still on your company’s clock. Yup, the following comment, will get you sued: “Hey, just calling to tell you I won’t be employed with Morgan Ellerman next year and would love to continue to serve you at my new company.”
  4. Tell a lie about your future plans. This leads to distrust and then folks begin to question all of your actions, read your old emails, talk to clients etc. Then they discover your other mistakes!
  5. Refuse to read what you sign, and don’t keep copies. Can’t violate a contract you don’t have a copy of – right? wrong. 

Well, I wish you all the best with your new business. I also wish you a year of no lawsuits — Let us know if we can help!

Lauren Ellerman 



About the author

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

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