Overview

Mary Goodrich Nix is an attorney and partner at Holland & Knight, where she manages complex commercial, employment, franchise, and trade secret litigation and transactional matters for publicly traded and privately held companies, including Fortune 500, middle market companies, and startups in a variety of industries.

Ms. Nix has extensive courtroom experience, including multiple jury trials, bench trials and injunction evidentiary hearings. She has arbitrated numerous cases throughout Texas and in other parts of the country. For corporate clients with multistate operations, Ms. Nix manages nationwide legal teams to ensure a consistent approach to litigating when disputes cross state borders. She has also frequently worked with international organizations to oversee the pursuit or defense of domestic allegations.

Ms. Nix is a co-chair of the firm's Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants Team, and is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Ms. Nix is frequently called upon to assist companies when key employees move between competitors. In her work related to confidential information and trade secret protection, she advises clients in the identification of confidential information, trade secrets and other intellectual property assets and options for protection. When necessary, she pursues litigation on behalf of her clients to protect their proprietary information from theft and disclosure. Her work frequently focuses on disputes that result when intellectual property is compromised or taken by employees during employment, where there is a threat of loss of intellectual property for any reason, and protecting proprietary information and trade secrets when the employment relationship ends. Ms. Nix frequently defends companies that have been accused of violating non-compete, non-solicit or non-disclosure agreements or stealing confidential information.

Ms. Nix has recently been invited to serve on the Sedona Conference's newest working group, Working Group 12: Trade Secrets. She is part of the drafting team for "Topic 4: Protecting Trade Secrets in Litigation About Them."

Ms. Nix has extensive experience representing employers in a wide variety of regulatory compliance, litigation and transactional matters affecting the employer/employee relationship. She has successfully defended companies in administrative proceedings, litigation and arbitrations over claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, overtime class action, medical leave disputes, breach of contract claims, privacy violation claims, wage and benefit disputes, fiduciary duty violations and more. Ms. Nix has worked successfully with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and several other federal, state and local government agencies when a client is the subject of a complaint. Advocacy in this area includes responding to the complaint, negotiating where appropriate and advocating for her clients in administrative hearings.

Frequent matters she handles include allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference claims, Title VII claims, claims related to discrimination, harassment, retaliation and alleged violations of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Equal Pay Act (EPA) and alleged Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) violations.

Ms. Nix has been hired by corporate boards to handle internal, confidential investigations where the claims involve employment matters. She also has been hired to consult on legal strategy in ongoing noncompete and trade secret matters and disputes, and has been hired to provide expert opinions on nuanced legal issues to aid arbitrators, judges and juries in employment matters.

Experience

  • Obtained temporary injunction (TI) order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against a former employee in the residential real estate industry based on a breach of a restrictive covenant contained in a click-wrap agreement related to a grant of restricted stock units (RSUs); the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the court's TI Order (Order No. 19-20864, issued April 27, 2020); the matter is currently set for trial in August 2020
  • Obtained temporary restraining order (TRO) and TI order in Denton County, Texas, against a former employee and competitor in the waste hauling and recycling industry based on breach of fiduciary duty, breach of employment agreement and tortious interference claims; currently on appeal
  • Obtained TRO and TI order in Collin County, Texas, against a former employee in the educational lending industry based on breach of fiduciary duty, breach of employment agreement and tortious interference claims; ongoing matter
  • Obtained TI order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against a former employee in the residential real estate industry based on a breach of a restrictive covenant contained in a click-wrap agreement related to a grant of restricted stock units (RSUs); currently on appeal
  • Obtained an $11 million jury verdict in Dallas County, Texas, on behalf of an entrepreneur in the hotel drapery manufacturing industry based on a breach of a non-circumvent agreement; settled for a lesser sum
  • Obtained a TI order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against former executives and a competitor in the building fastener industry based on claims alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and violations of non-compete agreements; settled
  • Obtained a TI order in a Tarrant County, Texas, court against a former employee and competitor in the software industry based on a breach of restrictive covenants in an employment agreement and tortious interference claims against the new employer; settled
  • Obtained a TI order in Joplin, Missouri, on behalf of a barbecue restaurant franchisor in a non-compete and theft of trade secrets and trade dress case against a competitor who literally copied every aspect of the client's successful multistate business
  • Obtained a ruling denying a request for injunctive relief in a Florida state court where the opposing business was attempting to enforce a non-compete agreement against a healthcare corporate client
  • Obtained multiple TROs in a variety of Texas court venues on behalf of corporate clients in non-compete and trade secret theft disputes

  • Obtained a full defense jury verdict in Dallas County in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit in the construction equipment industry
  • Obtained a jury verdict on behalf of a client in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in an age discrimination claim
  • Obtained a summary judgment on behalf of a client in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in a gender discrimination claim in the hospitality industry
  • Defending a well-known nonprofit company in response to allegations of race, color and gender discrimination; ongoing matter
  • Obtained early dismissal on the pleadings of Title VII claims asserted against a client in the hospitality industry in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas; ongoing matter
  • Defending well-known car title lending company in a race discrimination case; ongoing matter
  • Defended prominent Dallas law firms in gender discrimination claims
  • Obtained summary judgment on all Title VII claims asserted against an oil and gas services company in a Corpus Christi, Texas, state court
  • Represented, as part of a team, a prominent oil and gas company in the largest on-land well blowout in OSHA matters; complete dismissal of OSHA citation
  • Won jury verdict in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas for a woman in an age discrimination and intentional infliction lawsuit that resulted in large jury verdict publicized throughout the world (press reports translated into multiple languages)
  • Defended a prominent credit company in an FLSA class action litigation; settled
  • Defended a leading cross-media advertising company in ADEA litigation; settled
  • Tried and defended a large equipment seller in sexual harassment and intentional infliction claims in two lawsuits in Dallas County
  • Served as part of multi-attorney team defending a large national retailer in an FLSA class action lawsuit based in California
  • Defended a food manufacturer in age, national origin and gender discrimination claims
  • Frequently defend companies by preparing position statements and negotiating with the EEOC
  • Frequently manage DOL audits related to wage and hour claims and working conditions
  • Frequently represent companies in negotiations and litigation involving former executives and other employees in employment contract and related disputes
  • Assist multiple high-profile and highly paid executives in negotiating contracts with publicly traded and privately held companies, including negotiating stock options and equity agreements
  • Litigated employment contract disputes in several industries including aviation, retail, restaurant, fast food, hotel, real estate, healthcare, medical services, elder care, personnel, recruiting and more
  • Frequently prepare employment and trade secret protection guidance, policies and procedures

  • Received full defense verdict on an $8 million claim in a jury trial in Collin County, Texas, when representing a title insurance company in a mortgage fraud claim; affirmed on appeal
  • Represented a large Fortune 100 oilfield services company in a case involving the largest well blowout on land in the U.S.
  • Represented a large Fortune 100 oilfield services company in a case involving deaths from oilfield blowouts in Texas
  • Defended a liquid waste company in allegations brought by a city; resolved favorably
  • Defended a solid waste company in allegations brought by a city; resolved favorably
  • Defending an internet-based tutoring company in franchise and sales tax claims brought by the Texas Comptroller; ongoing matter
  • Defended a hospitality management company in claims by Texas Workforce Commission related to alleged "common paymaster" issues
  • Assist financial lending institutions in evaluating claims and analyzing risk related to open litigation and claims against current or potential borrowers and portfolio companies

  • Represented a franchisor in the real estate industry in a dispute related to territorial encroachment by one franchisee against another in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas; settled
  • Represented an association of franchisees of a restaurant industry franchisor in a dispute over marketing and gift card fees in Arapahoe County, Colorado; settled
  • Represented a franchisor and one of its franchisees in the real estate industry in a dispute venued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the franchisee's former employee alleging breach of non-disclosures, non-compete and non-solicit agreements; obtained injunction barring employee from competing and soliciting for full term of the agreements and from disclosing information
  • Represented two franchisees and the owners in a dispute asserting fraud and breach of franchise agreement against a franchisor in the home healthcare industry; arbitration award in favor of client; settled
  • Represented franchisee of a weight loss franchise against the franchisor in a dispute asserting fraud and breach of franchise agreement; arbitration award in favor of client
  • Obtained dismissal from Collin County court on an employment claim based on vicarious liability and respondeat superior filed against a multinational real estate franchisor
  • Draft franchise agreements and assist with required disclosures to franchisees

Credentials

Education
  • University of Houston Law Center, J.D.
  • Baylor University, B.B.A.
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Texas
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
Memberships
  • The Sedona Conference, Working Group 12 (Trade Secrets), 2018-Present
  • American Bar Association, Forum on Franchising: Women's Caucus Leadership, 2017-Present
  • Attorneys Serving the Community
  • College of the State Bar of Texas
  • State Bar of Texas Foundation, Fellow
  • Dallas Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Dallas Bar Association, former Board Member, 2004-2006; Franchise and Distribution Section, Vice Chair, 2016
  • Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, President, 2005
  • Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Foundation, Chair, 2004; Sustaining Life Founding Fellows, 2002-Present
  • Dallas Women Lawyers Association, Board Member, 2002; Current Member
  • Patrick E. Higginbotham American Inn of Court, former Associate and Barrister
  • DallasHR
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Deacon
  • The Lamplighter School Parents Association, President Advisor, 2019-2020; President, 2018-2019; Board of Trustees, 2018-2019
  • The Hockaday School, Parents' Association volunteer, 2019-Present
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Litigation – Labor and Employment, 2020, 2021
  • Texas Super Lawyers magazine, 2012-2020
  • Best Lawyers in Dallas: Labor & Employment Law, D Magazine, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2016
  • Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Dallas, Dallas Business Journal, 2009
  • Outstanding Young Texan, Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce, 2009
  • Outstanding Young Dallasite, Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce, 2008
  • Top Lawyer Under 40 in Commercial Litigation, D Magazine, 2006
  • Top 10 Young Professionals to Watch in Dallas, 2006
  • Rising Star, Texas Super Lawyers magazine, 2004

Publications

Speaking Engagements

News