Hawley and Cauley Communications last week announced a name change to Hawley Cauley Sandler as Rick Sandler moved into the agency's offices in anticipation of joining the operation as an equity partner.
The former Pagano Schenck & Kay president and chief executive insisted, however, that an agreement with partners Bob Cauley and Shervin Hawley was still being hammered out and that no legal partnership had yet been created.
"We haven't signed all of the stuff yet. We're still negotiating," Sandler said. "I have not signed any documents. The lawyers have the papers."
Managing partner Cauley did not return calls by press time. On Wednesday, Cauley did issue a written statement that read, in part: "Hawley and Cauley . . . is very pleased to announce the addition of arguably the best strategic thinker in the market, Rick Sandler. Rick will be joining as a full partner with equal ownership . . . The agency has changed its name to Hawley Cauley Sandler." The receptionist at the 15-person shop began using the new name in response to telephone queries that same day.
Sandler moved to Hawley and Cauley's offices after splitting with PS&K Monday morning. Sandler and his attorney, Maury Ringel of Ringel Law Group in Needham, Mass., said Sandler was "fired" by PS&K partner and creative director Woody Kay.
Kay told Adweek that Sandler left of his own volition after being confronted about holding talks with Hawley and Cauley.
Both executives confirmed that Sandler had signed a noncompete agreement with Pagano Schenck & Kay. Terms were not disclosed, but it is believed such a document would bar Sandler from soliciting PS&K staff or clients.
It was unclear at press time whether the specific nature of Sandler's departure--dismissal versus resignation--would render such an agreement null and void. These and other legal issues may in part be holding up the completion of the partnership arrangement between Sandler and Hawley and Cauley. Terms of the agreement are expected to be finalized within the next week or so, sources said.