The Georgia Court of Appeals recently issued an important opinion in the context of a law firm split up. This opinion should be read by any attorney contemplating a move to another law firm.
In Helms & Greene, LLC v. Willis, an attorney began marketing his own separate practice while still employed at a law firm. On summary judgment, the trial court found against the firm on its breach of fiduciary duty claim because the firm “could not show that it incurred damage or that [the attorney] obtained any benefit through his unsuccessful marketing efforts.”
The firm appealed the ruling, arguing that it was not required to show that it incurred any damage or that the attorney obtained any benefit through his breach. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the trial court, holding that “an available remedy for an agent’s breach of fiduciary duty is recovery of compensation paid by the principal to the agent during the period of the agent’s malfeasance.”