Protecting Trade Secrets When Key Employees Move to Competitors

Recovering Confidential Business Information and Defending Against Misappropriation

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide legal strategies for employers and their counsel to prevent or restrict the loss of confidential company information when a key employee goes to work for a competitor. The panel will review the use of computer forensics to obtain evidence to support the employer's case.


One of the most significant risks of losing a key employee to a competitor is that the worker will take business trade secrets to their new employer. The ease of accessing, storing and transmitting data electronically increases the odds that employees can discreetly share confidential information.

The loss of trade secrets to a competitor can significantly harm a business, so it is critical to take appropriate steps to safeguard confidential data from misappropriation by departing employees. By reacting quickly when a key employee leaves, employers can protect their most valuable assets.

Listen as our panel of attorneys and a computer forensics expert, using a case study as a backdrop, provides legal and practical steps for employers to prevent or restrict the loss of confidential company information when a key employee leaves to work for a competitor. The panel will discuss the critical role computer forensics plays in obtaining "smoking gun" evidence necessary to obtain injunctive relief or settle on favorable terms.



  1. Initial response tactics
    1. Locate employment contracts
    2. Identify and preserve all sources of electronically stored information the employee may have accessed
    3. Dealing with employees left behind
    4. Assess privilege issues and contract compliance issues
    5. Consider non-contractual legal theories
  2. Fact-gathering and evidence gathering
    1. Issues to be investigated
    2. Preserving evidence
    3. Using computer forensics to obtain “smoking gun” evidence
  3. Formal response strategies
    1. Cease and desist letters
    2. Notification to competitor company
    3. Litigation considerations
    4. Non-legal alternatives
    5. Discovery considerations
    6. Settlement


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What initial steps should employers take when they learn that a key employee has accepted an offer of employment from a business competitor?
  • What non-contractual legal theories should employment attorneys consider when deciding whether to pursue legal action against a departing key employee who allegedly misappropriated trade secrets?
  • How is forensic reconstruction being used to obtain key evidence in trade secret misappropriation cases?
  • What legal considerations should employment counsel take into account when deciding whether litigation is the most appropriate means for recovering confidential data?


Jessica Brown
Jessica Brown

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

She represents corporate clients in connection with trade secret litigation, restrictive covenants, wage and hour and...  |  Read More

Jason C. Schwartz
Jason C. Schwartz

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Mr. Schwartz's practice includes the full range of labor and employment matters, including those...  |  Read More

Seth P. Berman
Seth P. Berman

Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel
Stroz Friedberg

He supervises digital forensics, cybercrime investigations, and electronic discovery assignments involving the...  |  Read More

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