Physician employment contracts are complicated, and they’re full of legal terminology that most people don’t understand. But above all else, they’re binding.
The concept of a new job and a new employer can be exciting, but physicians can’t afford to sign an employment contract without taking the time to review, assess, and negotiate the agreement.
It is in every physician’s interest to hire a contract lawyer to make sure their employment agreement is fair and works to their advantage. It will cost you a few hundred dollars to do so, but it’s well worth the cost.
Here are five reasons why all physicians should hire a contract lawyer to review their employment contract before signing.
- Contract Lawyers Will Make Sure Your Compensation is at Fair Market Value
One of the most important things that a lawyer will review is your compensation. But it’s not just about your straight salary or compensation model. They’ll also look to make sure you’re being paid Fair Market Value.
There is regulatory guidance regarding the fair market value of physician compensation, and contract lawyers know exactly what the FMV in your geographical region should be.
This article offers more information about FMV and the new FMV standards set in 2021.
- Contract Lawyers Know How to Protect Your Interests (Even After the Contract Ends)
Physician employment contracts include restrictive covenants, which are terms that dictate where and in what capacity you can and cannot work during your employment period and after. These are usually insignificant when you’re working for the employer, but they become quite important when your contract ends.
One of the most common restrictive covenants is the non-compete clause, which can put restrictions on where you can work after your contract ends.
A typical non-compete may restrict you from working within a certain mile radius of your current employer for a period of one or two years. Reasonable non-compete clauses vary greatly depending on the region in which you work, and a contract review lawyer will know what’s reasonable for your region.
- Hiring a Contract Lawyer Now Can Save You Money Later
The cost of hiring a contract review lawyer is small in comparison to the amount of money you might have to pay when the contract ends.
Termination clauses often include language that says if you end your contract early you may have to pay signing bonuses, recruitment costs, or relocation expenses back to the employer.
Hiring a lawyer before you sign your contract can protect you from incurring certain financial obligations when your contract ends.
- Contract Lawyers Will Identify Information That May Be Missing
Your contract lawyer won’t just review the terms that are in the contract — they’ll also spot what’s missing.
If you’ve done your research on employment contracts or signed a contract in the past, you may feel confident that you can review your new contract without the need for a lawyer.
But do you have a sharp enough eye to recognize important terms and clauses that might be missing?
From on-call arrangements to who pays for malpractice tail insurance when the contract ends, contract lawyers will easily spot important details that might be missing.
- Contract Lawyers Can Help Negotiate Contracts
In addition to reviewing contracts, lawyers can negotiate them for you as well.
A lawyer will identify terms and conditions in the contract that they believe aren’t as favorable as they could be. They may be able to negotiate a better salary, a bigger signing bonus, or more on-call pay. They may be able to negotiate termination clauses and restrictive covenants. They may be able to negotiate better terms regarding who pays for tail coverage on malpractice insurance when your contract ends.
This article explains how a contract lawyer may even be able to add an inflation rider to your contract to ensure that your compensation rises in accordance with annual inflation rates.
Negotiation means compromising, and your lawyer can also help you decide which elements in your contract are worth compromising on and which ones are not.
Like physicians, lawyers specialize in different areas of the law.
When hiring a contract review lawyer, be sure to hire one that has experience in contract law. An experienced contract review lawyer will ensure that your contract includes everything it should, offers fair market value compensation, and protects your interest when the contract ends.
Hiring a contract review lawyer may be an expense you don’t want to incur now, but doing so will protect your financial interests in the long run.