A high-profile duel over rights to a legal database is playing out in state court in Boston. The warring parties are six former partners and the asbestos defense firm they left, allegedly taking with them high-value file management and other databases. The case, filed in November, raises the question: When partners leave, does a database that includes client information belong to the clients they take with them? Or to the old firm, which says it has invested heavily in developing the proprietary database?
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Old-time lawyers say that it used to be easy to get the court’s permission to withdraw from a case. You would just go to the judge and state, “Your Honor, we are not ready to go forward, and I am seeking leave to withdraw, because Mr. Green has not arrived.” You know: “Mr. Green” aka the moolah, aka the promised fee from the client. And, so the story goes, the judge would bang the gavel and grant your motion.
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