Your first official John Hancock announces your status as an adult; you now have real legal obligations. Even if the signature only means you will cut the grass every Saturday, it IS binding and there CAN BE repercussions: cut lawn, get car keys. Don’t cut lawn, walk 4 miles in the August sun, uphill, to visit girlfriend.
It is a litigious world, one needs to be careful. Ethics are aspirations, contracts are legally defined expectations.
Have you ever wondered how many documents out there have your signature on them? I’m not a lawyer but I play one on the phone every day and I’m handing out this advice today, with some important disclaimers, terms, conditions:
A. What you are about to read should not be considered actual legal advice.
B. Just because I took the LSAT in 1986 does not mean I’m qualified to give legal advice.
C. Call me if you need a lawyer, I have two, and they are BOTH “the best”, I guarantee it. (See “Jeffrey Bischoff Vs UBS” for a testimonial on my contract guy).
Note: “guarantee” as used in the above instance is not meant in its literal sense. Also, past performance is no indication of future success.
Here’s my free advice:
Make sure you have copies of everything that has your signature on it. That includes your initials, your X, your fingerprints. As of 2016 there were 1.34 million lawyers in the U.S. If they each held hands they could stretch from Boston to Miami and still be able to encircle your house in a 100 mile human coil of litigation and TRO’s.
Be aware of what you already signed, and wary of what you sign next. It is entirely your right to ask Human Resources to provide you with copies of EVERYTHING that has your signature on it, including negative consents and implicit understandings that all employees have. Like, thou shalt not talk to the Press. By asking for everything, you will accomplish a few things. You’ll not just be saying “can I see my contract because I forgot to keep a copy and I’m planning on leaving the firm”.
My non-legal non-binding advice would be to say:
“In light of all the legal maneuvering the firm is doing with protocol and non-solicits and new contracts using my own earned money as consideration, I need to know what would prohibit me from leaving in the event the firm suddenly asks me to sell something that is not in the best interests of MY clients”.
Say it confidently and matter of factly. I find hard messages are best delivered with laughter, it tricks the person into thinking you trust him.
And lastly, by gathering everything that has your signature on it, you will be establishing a memorialized understanding of everything the firm has on their side of the TRO table.
Or? Don’t do it, and your garden leave will permanently morph into that old lawn-cutting job.