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October 16, 2018

Publication
John G. O'Neill

John G. O’Neill quoted by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

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Partner John G. O’Neill was quoted by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in the article “Law firm’s insurer must defend ex-partners’ counterclaims.”

An excerpt:

A law firm’s liability insurer was obligated to defend counterclaims brought by former partners in response to the firm’s allegations that the partners unlawfully took proprietary databases, laptops and iPads when they left to start a competing firm, a U.S. District Court judge has determined. The counterclaims alleged that the plaintiff, Governo Law Firm, tortiously interfered with the departing attorneys’ client relationships by refusing to release client file materials and property when those clients followed them to their new firm.

Boston business and insurance litigator John G. O’Neill said Wolf’s ruling, at first blush, surprised him as it arose in the context of a law firm breakup and appeared to involve competition between former partners for clients — seemingly a business-related activity that would not be covered.

“But the distinction can be difficult, especially when, as here, clients may be impacted by the lawyers’ alleged conduct,” he said. “As the court pointed out, it implicated ethical rules and specialized knowledge of the lawyers, so you can see where it would be a difficult line to draw in terms of distinguishing between [business conduct and legal services].”

Read the full article here.

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