Evaluating Your Contract

Once you have a job offer, it may be tempting to let your guard down. But it's important to pay attention to the employment contract to make sure it fits your needs. If you don't, the result could be a lengthy contract with insufficient compensation.

Before You Sign On the Dotted Line

You need to be very careful when dealing with contracts because they represent a legal obligation once signed. And never sign anything you don't completely understand. Because of the nature of contracts and the complexity of the issues, you should have any contract you are considering reviewed by your attorney.

Any money you spend on attorney fees could save you several years of aggravation.

One thing to watch out for in an employment contract is a non-compete clause. If this type of clause is in your contract, make sure it's reasonable. Many associates fall into the trap of signing a contract with an unreasonable non-compete clause thinking it won't hold up in court. However, for a contract to be thrown out by the court, the doctor must hire an attorney and fight it – an expensive and inconvenient process.

You are better off making sure the clause is something you can live with or negotiate it out of the contract before you sign.

TIP: An alternative to a non-compete clause others have used would be to offer to sign a contract that simply states that you (the new doctor) would pay the established doctor a sum of money (to be negotiated) if you were to locate within a radius of the established doctor's office.

If the established doctor had a bad experience with a doctor who violated a previous non-compete clause, this would reassure the established doctor and enable negotiations to move forward. If the new doctor has no intention of establishing an office with a certain radius of the established doctor's office, the sum of money in the contract could be significant since it will never actually materialize.

This approach could also eliminate the need for a costly and time-consuming court battle. Of course, anytime you're dealing with employment contract options you should consult an attorney for legal advice.

Here are two Web sites with sample employment contracts you can review:

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