In news yet to cross the Atlantic for many, the iManage to NetDocuments swapout by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and King & Spalding has formed the basis of a US lawsuit against HBR Consulting by eSentio Technologies. eSentio seeks millions of dollars in compensation, alleging that a former employee breached his restrictive covenants in winning the NetDocuments conversion work for HBR.

eSentio, a Washington-based technology consulting company, on 10 April filed a lawsuit against former employee Rajiv Mukerji and his new employee HBR Consulting, alleging that Mukerji breached a restrictive covenant by interfering with eSentio’s relationships with Akin Gump and King & Spalding.

In its claim, eSentio says that it is recognised as the industry leader in converting law firms to the NetDocuments platform, and that because its employees are provided with specialised training, extensive client contact and access to confidential company information, they are required to sign a restrictive covenant protecting that information and preventing them from working in competition with eSentio after leaving the business.

eSentio claims that Mukerji, who began working with eSentio in July 2011 as director of its document management system and trained to become a leading NetDocuments consultant, was prohibited by contract from competing with eSentio for a year after his employment ended with regard to any business he had been involved in the past six months.

Both Akin Gump and King & Spalding had been assigned to Mukerji and eSentio claims: “As a result of their client/vendor relationships, eSentio was aware that both firms were likely to move to a cloud-based document management system in the future.” It adds: “Mukerji listed both firms among his active prospects only one month before his eSentio employment ended. Unfortunately, before he could capture any business for eSentio, Mukerji voluntarily resigned his employment.”

eSentio claims that having joined HBR to work in NetDocuments conversions for law firms: “Mukerji was instrumental in HBR’s recent wins of NetDocuments conversion projects with Akin and King & Spalding.”

The claim says: “Both law firms have been seeking advice and implementation support related to their migration to cloud-based document management systems. Both law firms evaluated competing bids from competing vendors – including HBR and eSentio – to provide them with this advice and implementation support.”

The win for HBR constitutes “interference with eSentio’s prospective contracts and business relationships and violates Mukerji’s employment contract,” eSentio alleges. The lawsuit asks that Mukerji and HBR be stopped from working with Akin Gump and King & Spalding, as well as asking for compensatory damages and punitive damages of $2m and $3m respectively from Mukerji and compensatory damages and punitive damages of $2m and $3m respectively from HBR.

In a statement HBR told Legal IT Insider: “Client confidentiality is of paramount importance to HBR and we are unable to discuss any details. We are working with those involved in the lawsuit to ensure this matter is resolved in a professional and timely fashion. We will also make sure that this issue does not distract from the incredible work our employees are doing and the strong growth we have achieved over the past several years.”

