When is the right time for physician employment agreement review?

I recently received a call from a nephrologist, (we’ll call him Jim) currently practicing on a locums basis as a hospitalist, and generally satisfied doing so. Jim was recently presented with the opportunity to join a practice as a nephrologist and contacted me to discuss how I could assist him. During our discussion, Jim explained that he had not yet received the employment contract, or anything in writing confirming the offer of employment, but would attend a reception for physicians joining the group, and would learn more about when he could expect to receive a formal employment offer.  He asked whether it was too soon to engage my services. I have no doubt that Jim is not the only physician considering when the time is right to engage a lawyer to review a physician employment agreement.

The appropriate time to retain an attorney to assist you is when the first documents outlining the terms of your employment are published. If the prospective employer presents a letter of intent (LOI) for you to sign, before signing it retain an attorney to review it and if necessary revise. While true, a LOI is rarely legally binding, it is issued for a reason: to confirm each party’s agreement to the terms contained in the LOI. For many employers, once the LOI is signed, its terms are considered mutually agreed upon. Therefore, when these same terms are included in the physician employment agreement, it can be considered acting in bad faith to revisit the terms in the LOI for the purpose of revising them. In fact, I have learned of situations where employers have rescinded offers of employment to physicians based on signing an LOI then later attempting to renegotiate the same terms once included in the physician employment agreement.  A quality attorney will review your LOI gratuitously as part of the review of the physician employment agreement. For insight into how to select an attorney to review your physician employment agreement, visit http://www.hollomanlawgroup.com/blog/?p=13.

If you are seeking an attorney to review your physician employment agreement, please consider The Holloman Law Group. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you. If you have any general questions regarding physician employment matters, please feel free to contact us. We can be reached directly by phone at 202.572.1000 or via email atinfo@hollomanlawgroup.com.

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