Some physicians worry about the reaction of a potential employer when the employer learns that the physician has brought in an attorney to review a draft physician employment agreement. Of the hundreds of physician employment agreements I have reviewed, I have never had a negative reaction to receipt of a legal review.
It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about offending the employer in some way. But remember, most employers are just as committed to making this your “forever job” as you are. The employer has expended both money and valuable physician time in narrowing the candidates and selecting and vetting you. They are as invested in getting you into the position as you are!
The employer made sure that its rights were adequately protected by hiring an attorney to draft the agreement. I think most employers view it as a sign of good faith when the physician is concerned enough about the position to invest in an attorney’s review. Especially for physicians coming out of training, the employer likely realizes that you are making a sacrifice to make sure that the agreement will last.
I represent many physician practices, and I have never had one of my clients get upset when a lawyer is brought in by a potential new hire. I’ve actually had the managing partner tell me “She must be serious about the position” when a lawyer’s review was presented to the practice.
Physicians should understand that having a legal review of their physicians employment agreement means that the comments given to the employer are coming from the attorney, not the physician. In the realm of politics, this is termed “plausible deniability.” A competent physician’s contract lawyer will not ask for unreasonable changes. Although I have never had an employer get upset about the changes requested (after all, it’s just a negotiation), the physician can easily deflect any criticism by simply shrugging and saying “you know how attorneys are.”
The first contract will set the baseline for the rest of your career with that employer. Don’t be concerned that a thorough review of a physician employment agreement will be perceived as a slight by your future colleagues. Just read a good book on physician employment agreements or retain a competent physician’s contract lawyer to assure you get a fair agreement. Your colleagues will respect your commitment to the position, and will almost always make reasonable adjustments to the agreement to demonstrate their commitment to you and your future with them.