Due diligence providers for law firm hires spar over trade secret claims

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REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

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  • Baretz+Brunelle said Decipher sent it a cease and desist letter over alleged trade secrets theft
  • Both companies provide due diligence services for law firm hires

(Reuters) - Legal marketing and advisory company Baretz+Brunelle LLC asked a New York federal court on Monday to rule preemptively that it hasn't stolen trade secrets from competitor Decipher Investigative Intelligence, which it said has threatened a lawsuit.

Baretz+Brunelle's filing for declaratory judgment says that Decipher sent the company a cease and desist letter in March. The company said Decipher claimed its co-founder Howard Rosenberg brought trade secrets to Baretz+Brunelle that were used to help the company build a lawyer job candidate evaluation tool.

The tool Baretz+Brunelle says it's developed provides due diligence for law firms looking to hire lawyers from competitors. The practice of recruiting from rivals has surged at large law firms amid a bigger legal industry talent war.

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Decipher launched its own product in 2015 to evaluate law firm hires that it's marketed to clients, the filing said.

Neither a spokesperson for Decipher nor Michael Ellenhorn, Decipher's co-founder and CEO, immediately responded to requests for comment Monday.

Baretz+Brunelle said Monday it launched a new talent intelligence and analytics practice with Rosenberg, who joined in February, at the helm.

The company said in its complaint that Decipher publicly outlines its lawyer hire due diligence methods, so any claim of a trade secrets breach shouldn't hold.

"They did not want to file this lawsuit, but when Decipher threatened them with frivolous litigation, and the possibility of impugning their integrity with their world-class clients, they had no choice," said David Slarskey, the attorney representing Baretz+Brunelle.

Rosenberg left Decipher in 2019 and gave all Decipher-related materials in his possession back to the company, according to the complaint. He had a non-compete that expired in September 2021, it said.

The case is Baretz+Brunelle LLC v. KSL Global Market Research LLC, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:22-cv-04202.

For Baretz+Brunelle: David Slarskey and Richard Weingarten of Slarskey

For Decipher: Not available

Read more:

The legal talent war that broke out in 2021 shows no sign of slowing down

(NOTE: This story has been refiled to fix formatting issues.)

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Chinekwu Osakwe covers legal industry news with a focus on midsize law firms. Reach her at Chinekwu.osakwe@thomsonreuters.com.