A recent ruling from a federal district court in Texas provides a clear example of what a non-party should not do when responding to a subpoena. In MWK Recruiting, Inc. v. Jowers, Case No. 1:18-cv-0444 RP, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73265 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 27, 2020), the plaintiff, a legal-recruiting firm, sued a former employee of the firm alleging that he misappropriated trade secrets and breached the non-compete and non-solicitation provisions of his employment agreement. The plaintiff subpoenaed several non-party law firms requesting communications with the defendant, as well as documents regarding attorneys placed at the law firms by the defendant, and monies paid to the defendant for those placements. Although most of the law firms complied with the subpoenas, one law firm engaged in a months-long discovery fight that was criticized by the district court in its written opinion denying the law firm’s motion to quash.
The court was critical of the law firm’s correspondence with plaintiff’s counsel, who attempted to obtain the records by agreement: