E. Barrett Prettyman Court House.
E. Barrett Prettyman Court House. (Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM MEDIA)

A legal technology firm filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday accusing a former employee of stealing two Big Law clients when he defected to a rival technology vendor.

Washington, D.C.-based Legal Technology Group Inc., which does business as eSentio Technologies, says Rajiv Mukerji was managing the accounts of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and King & Spalding before he left to join HBR Consulting. Shortly after, both law firms contracted with HBR for their migration to cloud-based document management, according to eSentio’s suit, which seeks $10 million in damages.

And it’s not just about the money: eSentio also wants an injunction blocking HBR from providing services to the law firms, and blocking Mukerji from working with Akin or King & Spalding on behalf of HBR in the future.

“HBR’s and Mukerji’s actions have directly and proximately resulted in damage to eSentio,” states the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The full amount of this damage is not immediately determinable or calculable, and is likely irreparable.”

eSentio’s lawyer, Michael Lorenger of Lorenger & Carnell, declined to comment on the case. HBR, via a public relations representative, also declined to comment.

At the root of the dispute is a fight over document management technology for law firms. eSentio advises clients on converting to NetDocuments, a cloud-based platform for managing documents and emails.

Mukerji, who joined eSentio in 2011, oversaw the company’s document management practice, according to the complaint. The company alleges that before he left eSentio, Mukerji “listed both Akin and King & Spalding among the firms he had identified for potential business opportunities and further solicitation.” Mukerji then changed jobs and started at HBR’s global law firm adviser practice in July 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile. In that role, the complaint alleges, he does “precisely the same work he performed for eSentio.”

Shortly after, the lawsuit claims, both Akin Gump and King & Spalding chose HBR, over competing bids from eSentio and others, to consult on migrating to cloud-based document management systems. That both firms chose HBR for their projects is no coincidence, eSentio contends — HBR identified Mukerji “as one of its key personnel for the project” in both the law firms’ bids.

The lawsuit claims that Mukerji breached a provision in his contract barring him from taking any action to “solicit, divert or take away any client of [eSentio] or prospect” that he had been involved with during the six months before leaving the company. It also accuses HBR of tortious interference of contract and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage or contracts. eSentio wants Mukerji and HBR to each pay $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

A legal technology firm filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday accusing a former employee of stealing two Big Law clients when he defected to a rival technology vendor.

Washington, D.C.-based Legal Technology Group Inc., which does business as eSentio Technologies, says Rajiv Mukerji was managing the accounts of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and King & Spalding before he left to join HBR Consulting. Shortly after, both law firms contracted with HBR for their migration to cloud-based document management, according to eSentio’s suit, which seeks $10 million in damages.

And it’s not just about the money: eSentio also wants an injunction blocking HBR from providing services to the law firms, and blocking Mukerji from working with Akin or King & Spalding on behalf of HBR in the future.

“HBR’s and Mukerji’s actions have directly and proximately resulted in damage to eSentio,” states the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The full amount of this damage is not immediately determinable or calculable, and is likely irreparable.”

eSentio’s lawyer, Michael Lorenger of Lorenger & Carnell, declined to comment on the case. HBR, via a public relations representative, also declined to comment.

At the root of the dispute is a fight over document management technology for law firms. eSentio advises clients on converting to NetDocuments, a cloud-based platform for managing documents and emails.

Mukerji, who joined eSentio in 2011, oversaw the company’s document management practice, according to the complaint. The company alleges that before he left eSentio, Mukerji “listed both Akin and King & Spalding among the firms he had identified for potential business opportunities and further solicitation.” Mukerji then changed jobs and started at HBR’s global law firm adviser practice in July 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile. In that role, the complaint alleges, he does “precisely the same work he performed for eSentio.”

Shortly after, the lawsuit claims, both Akin Gump and King & Spalding chose HBR, over competing bids from eSentio and others, to consult on migrating to cloud-based document management systems. That both firms chose HBR for their projects is no coincidence, eSentio contends — HBR identified Mukerji “as one of its key personnel for the project” in both the law firms’ bids.

The lawsuit claims that Mukerji breached a provision in his contract barring him from taking any action to “solicit, divert or take away any client of [eSentio] or prospect” that he had been involved with during the six months before leaving the company. It also accuses HBR of tortious interference of contract and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage or contracts. eSentio wants Mukerji and HBR to each pay $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.