I litigate competition issues across many sectors. Over the years, I have developed deep knowledge in a handful of industries. This knowledge gives me a distinct advantage when articulating the issues not only in court but also to opposing counsel. Knowledge is in fact power, and both opponents and neutrals quickly grasp whether your attorney knows not only the law but also the facts surrounding the industry, competition within that industry, and the employer’s and employee’s role in that industry.

Naturally, mastery of competition law is critical in disputes involving a non-compete, non-solicitation, or confidentiality contract. But the winning edge belongs to the attorney who can best explain to the judge what the outcome should be based not just on the law but also based on the industry involved, including the customer base, product, service, and competitor profiles. The party whose attorney does this best significantly increases the odds of prevailing.

For example, a judge may not initially understand that the healthcare industry has distinct staffing and recruiting needs for private-duty patients and for home health care patients. In fact, there is a tendency to lump all healthcare sectors together despite the healthcare industry comprising many sub-sectors. But as participants in the industry know, not all companies who provide care or staffing to healthcare patients necessarily compete with one another. The ability to explain this distinction may mean the difference between a non-compete being upheld or struck down. Yet you won’t find that distinction in any law book or published case; it comes from having the vision to intimately understand how different industries function and compete—and how those differences should determine any given competition dispute.

And yet a surprising amount of attorneys approach competition law in cookie-cutter fashion—and achieve cookie-cutter results. Refuse to adopt that approach and insist on catered representation. Your case depends on it.

  • Telecomm
  • Automotive
  • Staffing
  • Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Technology


I represent first and second tier automotive suppliers and manufacturers who depend on longstanding customer relationships and supplier contracts to sustain revenue and drive growth. The hyper competitive Automotive Industry’s participants are perpetually exposed to cost-cutting tactics that make it difficult to thrive even in a level playing field.

However, that field can quickly and unfairly tilt when former employees, particularly in executive and sales roles, jump ship and divulge their former employer’s cost models and pricing. Foreign competition and unfair practices—particularly in China—have compounded this problem. I have dealt firsthand with Chinese manufacturers who use former employees of U.S. companies to fight a proxy war and limit or altogether eliminate exposure.

My experience in this realm allows me to cut through the complexity and hold both domestic and foreign companies to account for unlawful competitive practices.

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The Staffing Industry is rapidly growing and touches on a myriad of specialized fields, including industrial, IT, healthcare, and a variety of professional services. A staffing agency is often responsible for its personnel creating not just significant books of business but also creating a vast pool of highly-talented and coveted placements.”

Having represented a number of recruiters and staffing outfits, I know firsthand that one of the biggest risks in this area involves recruiters leaving with a pool of placements at its disposal—built on the company’s time and dime. Responsiveness is crucial to limit and recoup losses.

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I represent Telecom Industry providers and understand that telecom employers pour substantial resources into their personnel to ensure governmental compliance and customer satisfaction. In the non-compete realm, it is crucial for the court to understand the particularly specialized training, certification, and licensure that employers provide their employees, and the competitive edge this provides in the market place.

Unfortunately, it is increasingly common for employees to take this knowledge and training down the road to a competitor—often with a string of customer accounts in tow. Competition law affords employers a ready-made tool to address this unfair competition.

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The Tech Industry involves companies on the cutting edge of innovation. Many tech companies live and die on a novel idea, concept, program, or tech-based service. The cost to develop this competitive advantage is considerable.

As a result, tech companies are the poster child for trade secret misappropriation, both domestic and abroad. Misappropriating ideas and technology extremely accelerates a former employee’s or competitor’s ability to compete. But it does so in an unfair—and illegal—manner. Nonetheless, the economic edge often provides too attractive, leading unscrupulous competitors to take on risks to gain an advantage.

Both Michigan and federal law provide a comprehensive set of legal tools to attack this conduct. Such tools include attorney fees, sanctions, orders stopping use of the technology or information, and double damages. When the time comes to protect your company’s technology, it is important to have an attorney specialized not just in understanding the technology but the specific laws enacted to combat unfair competition from domestic and international competitors.

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I have represented a number of players in the Finance Industry—mortgage companies, private wealth management firms, banks, and brokerage firms—to ensure their interests are protected and vindicated, whatever the circumstance.

Indeed, the Financial Industry is historically rife with employee disputes and defections, particularly in this highly-competitive market; it seems as if every month there is a major schism. Those fractures often result in a large book of business going down the road. The loss can be devastating.

At the heart of much of the Financial Industry is sales and client relationships. In times of transition, those who make those sales and hold those relationships temporarily hold the upper-hand.

Finance outfits have learned to counterbalance this advantage by using employment agreements, typically containing protective non-compete and non-solicit provisions. Unfortunately, some companies wait too long to enforce these agreements after their former employee and representative departs with a book of business (and sometimes highly-confidential and proprietary information). Every second counts in these situations. Thankfully, the law provides expedited procedures to address diverted business and other violations of employment agreements.

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The Healthcare Industry comprises a number of specialties that few in the legal industry understand. Having represented Healthcare participants, I can quickly and intelligibly explain to the courts nuances that often determine the case.

For instance, in a non-compete or non-solicit situation, it is critical to explain the difference between home health nursing and facility nursing, between private-duty care and low-acuity care. Attorneys that fail to tease out these segments of the healthcare industry—and instead treat healthcare as a uniform, single industry—seriously risk losing cases that rise and fall on the exact nature of the work, customer-base, and training related to these segments.

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I represent all types of participants in the construction industry. From general contractors to suppliers, from commercial to residential builders.

Construction disputes and transactions demand a working vocabulary and understanding of not only the applicable law but the trade. After litigating multiple construction disputes, I have learned multiple nuances in the construction trade that allow me to focus in on the real issues in a cost-effective manner.

I take great price in representing and protecting companies that build our city skyscapes and rebuild those skyscapes when disaster strikes.

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R. J. Cronkhite

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