Christopher P. Stief
Chris Stief is managing partner of the firm's Philadelphia office, Co-Chair of the Employee Defection and Trade Secrets practice group, and a core member of the International Employers practice group.
Chris represents employers in a full range of labor and employment matters, including a national and international practice focusing on restrictive covenant and trade secrets issues. His practice includes litigating and advising companies on issues relating to covenants not to compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements, unfair competition, employee raiding and team moves, trade secrets, duty of loyalty, the U.S. Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA), and various state trade secrets and unfair competition statutes. He has a particular focus on advising and providing representation on restrictive covenant issues for companies that have a multi-state or multinational workforce, and a consequent need to interpret and account for the varying laws of diverse jurisdictions. There are three main segments to Chris’s practice:
1. Drafting & Implementing Restrictive Covenants & Confidentiality Programs: Chris regularly assists companies with drafting restrictive covenants and helps develop programs to protect competitive assets against employee defection. He places particular emphasis on advising and creating such programs for businesses that operate on a multi-state or multinational basis, helping employers manage the challenges of developing and implementing a consistent corporate approach across a broad range of sometimes conflicting jurisdictional law and workplace cultures. International and cross-border drafting and strategy is an area of increasing demand.
2. Strategic Planning, Advice & Counseling on Employee Transitions: Chris spends a good deal of time engaged in strategic planning with companies about potential recruits or upcoming employee transitions. This includes risk assessment of prospective recruiting ventures, as well as the formulation of strategic options to address or minimize legal risks while preserving the value of a hiring and expansion opportunity. Chris has provided counseling, advice and risk assessment relating to hundreds of employee transitions throughout the United States.
3. Restrictive Covenant, Trade Secrets and Employee Raiding/Team Move Litigation: Chris has handled litigation and other contentious non-compete, trade secrets, employee raiding and team move matters throughout the United States (at least 45 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico), as well as international matters arising out of key jurisdictions in Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East. This includes both enforcement and defense, and many of his litigation matters have involved applications for temporary restraining orders or preliminary injunctions, along with claims for money damages. Chris has experience handling multi-national restrictive covenant litigation, including prosecuting and resisting anti-suit injunction actions in both U.S. and E.U. jurisdictions involving the application of the EU’s Brussels Regulation on Jurisdiction.
He has represented clients in numerous industries, including securities brokerage (retail private client and trading & sales desks); private banking and family office services; insurance services, brokers and carriers; retailing (physical and online); radio (on-air talent and sales); direct response television (on air talent); advertising; publishing; computer software, sales and services; market research; business consulting; medical, dental and veterinary practices and hospitals; employee placement and staffing; long haul trucking and freight forwarding; automobile and auto parts manufacturing; packaging; government contracting; mortgage lenders, brokers and securitization; and others.
4. Mergers & Acquisitions: Chris’s restrictive covenant practice frequently intersects with merger and acquisition activities. His M&A related practice includes: (a) drafting restrictive covenants for inclusion in purchase agreements, (b) developing non-compete and restrictive covenant and retention agreements for key employees following closing of a transaction, (c) assessment of assignability and successor enforcement rights for restrictive covenant agreements signed by employees with acquisition targets or previously acquired companies, (d) litigation seeking to enforce sale-of-business covenants, (e) risk assessment and strategy formulation for third parties recruiting employees out of a pending acquisition target, (f) litigation relating to alleged employee “raids” of a recently acquired workforce, and (g) advising companies on implementation of effective restrictive covenant and asset protection programs to help position a company for acquisition, venture capital investment, or private equity financing.
Chris is "AV" Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, was ranked as a Notable Practitioner in Pennsylvania by Chambers USA in 2015 and 2016, and has been selected for inclusion in Who's Who Legal USA – Management Labour & Employment by the researchers at the International Who's Who publication. In 2016, he was listed as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer. Chris is a past Co-Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Committee and presently serves as Co-Chair of the Delaware County Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Committee. In addition, Chris was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Employers Forum, a non-profit organization with chapters in the U.S. and Europe dedicated to providing education and networking opportunities for legal and human resources professionals whose organizations employ workers globally. He is a founder and co-leader of the Fisher Phillips Financial Services Recruitment Litigation Conference, a participatory conference focusing on issues relevant to restrictive covenant and related litigation among broker-dealers, private wealth management firms, Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), private banks and insurance carrier distribution networks and agencies. Topics addressed range from raiding to FINRA and SEC regulations, and application of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting.
Chris is a contributor to the firm's Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog as well as the Cross-Border Employer Blog, and speaks and provides press commentary on both U.S. and international restrictive covenant issues.
Honors & Leadership
Honors & Awards
- Martindale-Hubbell “AV” Peer Review Rated
- Chambers USA Notable Practitioner, Labor & Employment, Pennsylvania
- Who’s Who Legal USA, Management Labour & Employment
- Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
- Past Co-Chair, Philadelphia Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Committee
- Co-Chair, Delaware County (PA) Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Committee
- Member, American Bar Association International Section Labor & Employment Law Committee
- Member, Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association Compliance & Legal Society
- Member, Philadelphia Bar Association: Business Law Section, Human Resources Committee
- Member, American Bar Association Labor & Employment Section
- Foreign Associate Member, Employment Lawyers Association (United Kingdom)
- International Affiliate Member Firm representative, Law Society of England & Wales
- Member, Board of Directors, International Employers Forum
Seminars & Speaking Engagements
- Philadelphia Annual One Day Seminar9.29.16
- Overtime Exemptions & Misclassification Issues: Brewing Wage and Hour Violations Could Seriously Interrupt Your Craft10.10.15
- Annual Broker Recruitment Litigation Conference6.12.09
- Securities Conference Broker Recruitment Litigation3.6.08
- Securities Conference Broker Recruitment Litigation1.10.07
- Securities Conference Broker Recruitment Litigation12.1.05
- Securities Conference Broker Recruitment Litigation2.7.04
- Raiding in the Securities Industry: The Search for Consensus9.10.03
- How to Create Effective and Enforceable Restrictive Covenant Agreements10.9.07
- It Depends On The Structure Of The Deal -- And Where The Employees Are.11.7.03
- Philadelphia Local Minimum Wage Increase for City Contractors: Continuing Trend of Municipal Action on Workplace LawGovernment Relations Blog5.7.14
- Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog11.29.12
- Cross Border Employer Blog11.9.11
- Cross Border Employer Blog11.3.11
- Cross Border Employer Blog11.1.11
- Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog10.31.11
- Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog10.5.11
- Cross Border Employer Blog11.30.10
- Cross Border Employer Blog11.17.10
- Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog6.18.10
- Boston University School of LawJ.D. 1991, cum laude
- Dickinson CollegeB.A. 1985
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maine
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Supreme Court of Maine
- Superior Court of Pennsylvania