The Importance of Contract Review Services
Many physicians believe they can review and negotiate an employment contract just as well as a lawyer. For sure, physicians are extremely intelligent, and can perform some of the tasks that lawyers do, but not all of them. There are at least three reasons that physicians should still engage a contract lawyer, even when they believe they can perform the review and negotiation themselves.
1. Lawyers are trained to review contracts to see what’s NOT there, in addition to analyzing what IS there
Lawyers and many non-lawyers alike can look at a document and analyze the present language. But what about what’s not there? What is missing? A lawyer is trained to identify missing provisions that could be advantageous and should be inserted (e.g., certain employee benefits, employee-friendly termination provisions, additional obligations that should be imposed upon the employer). Conversely, a lawyer can identify missing provisions that would be disadvantageous (thereby helping the client realize that the contract is drafted favorably). Only experienced lawyers, who have reviewed and negotiated many employment contracts can identify these holes. Frankly, trained but inexperienced lawyers are often not up to the task.
2. An experienced lawyer has reviewed and negotiated many contracts, giving them the knowledge of what is acceptable and reasonable in employer-employee situations
Even if physicians have several jobs over the course of their career, they are likely to deal with only a handful of employers on average. Newly finished residents do not have any experience dealing with employee contracts. But, an experienced lawyer will have dealt with scores, perhaps hundreds of different employers. They draw upon past cases to position themselves to know what’s acceptable, reasonable and unlikely in the current marketplace, how employers are likely to react to various negotiation stances and/or levels of aggressiveness, and many, many other things. This knowledge helps physicians strategize and gain confidence when negotiating with employers.
3. Attorneys are willing to play the role of “bad cop”
We’ve all heard lawyer jokes. Some of them are funny, but more often than not they are usually not very flattering. In the context of contract review and negotiation, this can work to the physician’s advantage. It allows the physician to blame his or her lawyer for requesting certain contract modifications. By removing himself from the negotiations, the physician is less likely to damage the goodwill he has built up with the prospective employer. This allows him to avoid tainting the employee-employer relationship with the awkward moments that negotiations often present. If the physician is dealing directly with the employer during negotiations, he can say “my lawyer says this change is needed because ….” Or, if the physician’s lawyer is interfacing with the employer during negotiations, he can make the requests and handle all communications.
There is just too much at stake in the contract review process to leave unexamined. Failing to negotiate just one clause of your physician contract can cost the physician thousands of dollars in benefits, compensation or bonuses, limit their flexibility to end the relationship, and many other unfavorable things. Let a trained and experienced lawyer help you, and leave no stone unturned. Applied knowledge is powerful.
Sign your contract with confidence. We can help you evaluate your offer and protect your self legally. Request a team member to contact you today.