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Joseph A. Dougherty

Joseph A. Dougherty


Immediate Past Chairman & CEO

Philadelphia, PA

Joseph Dougherty is a shareholder in the Litigation Section. Joe is the immediate past Chairman and CEO of the firm, managing Buchanan from 2016 through May 2024.

How Joe Helps Clients

Joe combines more than 30 years of commercial litigation experience with the knowledge that he gained from running the business of a law firm for eight years. His experience as Chairman and CEO allowed him to not only gain valuable business experience but also see the business of law through the eyes of a client. Joe brings practical, real-world and business-rooted solutions and approaches to his practice of the law. His clients benefit from clear communication, realistic and actionable advice and a resolution-oriented mindset.

As Chairman and CEO of the firm, I focused on ensuring that clients received the highest quality legal services and that the firm’s rigorous client service standards were met, if not exceeded.  I bring that same focus to my clients today.

During his tenure at the firm’s helm, Joe made substantial improvements to the firm’s financial performance, established a robust current strategic plan to guide the future of the firm, developed new practice areas, recruited substantial new talent, increased the focus on Corporate Social Responsibility and community service and became a recognized leader in the effort to increase diversity and inclusion within the legal profession.  Under his leadership, the firm has received national recognition for its diversity efforts and outcomes.

As a nationally recognized litigator, Joe represents clients in various types of business disputes and difficult employment and trade secret issues. His primary focus is on assisting clients with post-employment disputes, often involving the enforcement and defense of employment agreements, restrictive covenants, misappropriation of trade secrets, and the protection of competitively sensitive business information. Joe has litigated more than 600 employee defection and recruitment cases across the country, ranging from a single employee to multiple employee defection “raiding claims” in a variety of industries. Many of these cases required emergency applications for injunctive relief, as well as subsequent damages claims, computer forensics, and claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Joe's practice also includes strategic advice and counsel in employment matters, litigation risks, investigations, trade secret protection, and the legal and business issues surrounding the recruiting and departure of key employees. He is adept at both drafting and counseling issues arising from executive employment agreements and corporate trade secret protection programs. Joe also has extensive experience developing digital evidence, including forensic investigations.

Acknowledged Leadership

With decades of experience litigating commercial and employment-related matters, Joe has been named to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list consecutively since 2005 and recognized in the Corporate Counsel Super Lawyers list for a number of years. He was also selected as one of the Philadelphia Business Journal's Most Admired CEOs in 2019. Joe was named among City and State PA’s Law Power 100 in 2022 and 2023 and he was named a Distinguished Leader in The Legal Intelligencer’s 2024 PA Legal Awards.

What Clients Can Expect

Clients depend on Joe’s clear understanding of their business' concerns and challenges to shape the practical advice and achievable strategies he provides. He is known for his holistic approach to their business disputes and obtaining the results clients need. Joe’s philosophy is simple: Anticipate the client's needs and treat the client's business as if it were your own. Joe’s clients know that “This is the guy you want by your side.”

Outside the Office

Active in many civic and charitable organizations, Joe serves on the Executive Board of the Satell Institute and as a trustee of the Heinz History Center. He is a board member of the Chuck Cooper Foundation and he serves as a member of the CEO Council for Growth of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Legal Society. Joe is also active in his church and a number of academic organizations.

Proof Points

  • Successfully defended a series of high stakes, hard fought litigation battles across the country following a corporate acquisition. The acquirer tried to prevent a third company from hiring employees who did not wish to remain with the new company. We had an undefeated string of wins for the company that successfully hired a large number of those employees, spanning over a five-year time period.
  • Advised a major regional bank on improving its strategies and protocol for protecting its customer and proprietary information, including development of enhanced employment agreements, confidentiality agreements and privacy policies.
  • Defeated an international financial institution's attempts to enjoin a former employee from working for a competing firm, resulting in denial of attempt to get a temporary restraining order and ultimate dismissal of the state court action.
  • Defended a major Wall Street investment bank against unfair competition claims related to the hiring of multiple sales traders from a competitor's fixed income division.
  • Drafted new restrictive covenants for a marketing and promotions firms and designed new procedures and policies to safeguard internal customer information and contact database software and systems.
  • Obtained permanent injunctive relief in state court restraining a former employee from competing in the telecommunications industry.