What Do You Do After You Have Your Physician Employment Agreement Reviewed?

By Dennis Hursh | Physician Contracts

Jan 12
Shaking on a Physician Employment Agreement

The Written Analysis of a Physician Employment Agreement

The purpose of this post isn’t to try to convince you to have your physician employment agreement reviewed by a physicians’ lawyer.  I’m assuming that you already figured out the value of having your agreement reviewed by a competent physicians lawyer, and have gotten the comments back.  If you haven’t decided whether or not to get your physician employment agreement reviewed, then there is no sense reading this until you’ve made the correct decision.

Get the Maximum Benefit from the Review of Your Physician Employment Agreement

Once you have received a written analysis of the legal terms and/or the compensation terms, it’s important that you maximize the value of this analysis.  Too many physicians carefully read the analysis, decide what are the “important points” and summarize those points to their prospective employer.  Don’t do that!

The reason you had the agreement reviewed in the first place is that you didn’t feel you were the person best able to protect your interests.  You were right – the lawyer is still the best person for that job.

If you parse through the lawyer’s review of the physician employment agreement and pull out what you think is important to summarize to your prospective employer, you have automatically discounted the lawyer’s advice on every other item.  You have also lost “plausible deniability” (since it is now you, rather than the lawyer, who is requesting changes).  Perhaps more importantly, you have taken many negotiating chips off the table.

Let the Lawyer be the Bad Guy

If you hand over the lawyer’s analysis, it is the lawyer, not you, asking for these points. I’ve rarely seen a situation where an employer was offended by any requests, but I think it is still easier for you to maintain a positive relationship with the employer if you simply say something to the effect that “I had a lawyer look at the agreement, and here is what the lawyer came up with”.  The lawyer isn’t in the room, and so can’t be brow-beaten with any comments designed to make you sign the “standard agreement“. Hopefully, the lawyer for the employer will look over the agreement and recognize the validity of many of the issues raised.  At any rate, the comments aren’t coming from you, they are coming from the lawyer.

Bargaining Chips on Your Physician Employment Agreement

Try to put yourself in the employer’s shoes for a moment.  Suppose you tell your contact that you have just four major points you’d like fixed, and he or she gives on two of them.  From their perspective, they “met you half way”.  You start looking unreasonable if you begin insisting that everything has to be the way you want it.

On the other hand, suppose you gave the employer contact a letter with 30 issues raised by the attorney, although you only feel four of them are “deal-breakers”.  In that case, you might give up 26 points, and stand fast on just four of them.  That way, there is a certain amount of psychological pressure for the employer to negotiate on those four points.

Perhaps more importantly, those points you felt were “not important” can come back to bite you some day, and having as many of them as possible addressed will definitely make for a better physician employment agreement for you.

So pick a physicians’ lawyer you can trust, and pass that lawyer’s comments on without editorializing.  That’s the best way to maximize the value of the review of your agreement.

Image courtesy of JPC-Prod/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a healthcare attorney with over 34 years of experience, focusing on physician contracts, regulatory compliance and sales of medical practices.

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