"Do lawyers have the right to take customers away from their firm and open up their own business? I bet they have non-compete contracts also."

Week of February 8, 2007

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News Real, January 18, 2007

Unkind Cuts

Serve: Regarding Chad Garrison's "Bad Hair Day": As a small-business owner, I don't understand why the stylist's lawyer feels the stylist has the right to take the customers away from the salon. I spend over $100,000 a year to advertise my business and gain new customers. If my employees take away those customers that I brought into my business, it would bankrupt me.

Do lawyers have the right to take customers away from their firm and open up their own business? I bet they have non-compete contracts also. What is the difference?
Name withheld by request, High Ridge

Volley: Salon owner Steven Preston Kootman defends aggressive legal action against stylists who violate the letter of a non-compete contract. Having worked many years under such an agreement, I found it to be confining, oppressive and unproductive for the entire staff. As stylists mature in their profession, they may choose to explore other options than their present situation. They have salon guests that prefer to visit an individual for service wherever that stylist may work. Although stylists may receive technical and business training on the job (as in any profession), they are as responsible for the success of a salon as the salon is for the stylists' success. The true professional is responsible for their own success.

When an owner and a stylist claim sole responsibility for the other's windfall, we then can only ask ourselves if that salon provides the right kind of work environment to support harmony for guests and stylists alike. Most important, the guest makes the ultimate decision as to where and who serves their needs.
Laurie Fields, Creve Coeur

Volley: Steven Preston Kootman allowed himself to be quoted on the verge of a maniacal tirade. I am a successful salon co-owner in Chesterfield, and I am sitting here in amazement at this article. I am going to guess that most judges absolutely hate litigating these sorts of cases.

We have no contracts, and we believe that this is America and we meager little hairdressers should be able to switch jobs without fear of legal ramifications. Most hairdressers are not business majors, nor are they in law school, and do not understand the full extent of contractual arrangements. I feel that some of the larger salons in St. Louis and the U.S. take advantage of the young kids that come out of beauty school and I am annoyed by it, and refuse to participate in it. We provide a fair environment and our stylists are pretty happy here.
Bob Pitts, Studio 703, Chesterfield

Serve: I support Steven as well as other stylists in the area who have lost their business to other "less experienced" workers whom they have employed. In a world where getting ahead seems to be imperative, I still think integrity is a very noble cause and will bring clients as well as respect and support from the working community you are striving to prosper in. I am a client of Steven's, and have been utterly thrilled to have found him in my short time thus far in St. Louis. Experience and expertise are clearly the cornerstones of his trade, and I have seen him make every effort to pass along his knowledge to those who also work in the salon. It should be illegal, and is indeed shameful, to take advantage of the steps he takes to make his salon successful.
Anna Lucke, St. Louis

News Real, November 23, 2006

Mind Over Manor

Score another for the late prof: Like letter writer Kathleen Moors I have to disagree with much of the December 21 letter you received from Scott Dort. I too read , and it moved me to contact David Manor's son Uri and give my condolences.

As far as Mr. Dort's description of Professor Manor is concerned, he states that Manor was temperamental — probably an accurate assessment. He says Manor was arrogant — definitely an accurate assessment. He says Manor was mean-spirited, which is something I never saw in him, and he ends his description by stating that Manor "had virtually no aptitude for teaching" — something I have to completely disagree with.

I graduated from Parks in 1989 and was probably one of the few who took six courses from Professor Manor. You see, Manor had a reputation for being tough, so people would get up really early in the morning on registration day to get into the classes and sections that they desired. If there were two sections of a course and Manor was teaching one of them, you could be certain that the other section would fill up first. Since I am not a morning person and I lived off campus, I was content to sleep in and take Professor Manor's class. I found his classes to be tough and you would not be "spoon fed" the material; however, any time I was struggling I knew that I could stop by his office and he would take time out and explain the material again.

Once he even offered to help me out with a class that he wasn't even teaching so I could pass the class and graduate on time. I thanked him for the offer but told him that with his help I might pass the class but it wouldn't be with a grade that would help my GPA. He was a tough teacher who expected you to work hard, but he was always fair and from my experience he cared about his students.

I agree that he probably took things too far in his dealings with Saint Louis University president Lawrence Biondi. I have heard Biondi can be quite arrogant himself. I can't imagine either one of them wanting to "give in" and admit to being wrong first. Since there was probably some fault on both sides with the way the matter was handled, it made for an unpleasant end to Professor Manor's career.
Rita Buechter, Webster Groves

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