Thomas F. Maffei quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on Superior Court decision involving departing attorneys who copied client files not being liable under 93A

March 13, 2023

Thomas F. Maffei, Senior Counsel in the firm’s Litigation Department, was quoted in the March 13th issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The article, “Departing lawyers who copied client files not liable under 93A,” discusses Governo Law Firm LLC v. CMBG3 Law LLC, et al., a case where a Superior Court judge found that attorneys who departed their firm to start a new competing firm didn’t violate Chapter 93A by copying client files before they left.

Read the full article from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscriber content).

From the article:

Thomas F. Maffei, a Boston litigator who handles law firm disputes and professional responsibility matters, called the decision a “textbook statement” of the rights and duties when attorneys leave law firms.

“More important than anything else, it makes crystal clear that despite the fact that the law has become a big business, law firms have very little value other than their client relationships, and those relationships are tied to the lawyers,” he said.

Meanwhile, he described the plaintiffs’ position that files are proprietary property of the law firm as “ridiculous.”

“Client files, with very, very few exceptions, belong to the client,” Maffei said. “As you saw in this case, the clients paid for the files, they’re entitled to demand they be transferred to the lawyers they want to have represent them, and they’re free to leave the law firm at any time.”

Maffei made further note of the court’s characterization of the plaintiff’s motivation for bringing the claim.

“The court’s comments are serious, especially where the plaintiff is a lawyer,” he said.