How/Why to Hire a Contract Lawyer for Physicians

In your career as a physician, you will be seeing a fair share of contracts. Legally binding contracts can sometimes be a bit finicky and also confusing, thanks to the language used. Now because they are legally binding, it is important to understand the written word and know what is being expected of you and what you would be given.

Physician contracts are usually employment contracts. Whether you have just started your career or have years of experience under your belt, contracts need to be handled carefully. You can review the contract yourself. As a rule of thumb, you should read everything that is written on it. However, a contract lawyer would be a real big help to you. 

It is always good to leave things to the experts. Let’s face it, you have spent years perfecting your skills and experiences in medicine. Lawyers, on the other hand, would have toiled toward gaining their knowledge in legal matters. Contract lawyers are a specific type of lawyer that mostly deals with how contracts are drafted. 

Why Hire a Contract Lawyer?

First, if you want to know why you should hire a contract lawyer, then it’s simple. One of the reasons is that the language used in contract, although it is English, is drafted in a very confusing way for the layman. A simple addition or omission of a comma, a word, and even a phrase can change the meaning of the contract. In doing so, this can lead to you receiving the short end of the stick. People do not always realize this and will fall into these contract traps. A contract lawyer would be able to fish out these traps. If you didn’t know about a trap and had signed the contract, you would have been legally bound to an unsatisfactory deal, and it would be difficult to get out of it. 

Second, a competent contract lawyer will also be able to help you negotiate better. They will know your requirements and help you get the best possible outcome. For example, your contract lawyer can help set up an inflation rider to go with your contract. If the salary between you and the hospital is non-negotiable due to salaries being standardized, a rider can protect you in the long run. Contract lawyers can also help you ensure that your salary is protected from inflation and that your salary increases as inflation increases, and that’s not a bad thing at all. They can even help root out non-compete clauses. These are clauses that can get you into trouble if you leave the practice, or ensure that you cannot work for a certain amount of time if you leave. These sort of traps are what contract lawyers are trained to look for. They can help you negotiate salaries, working hours, and even benefits and student loans. Sometimes, if negotiation is not possible because of the hospital's own policies of hiring, lawyers can also help you understand your contract better. A lot of the time, contracts have legal jargon that many people are not aware of. These terms can be explained easily to you if you hire the services of a lawyer to help you vet the contract. This way you are not overwhelmed by the jargon and are clear on expectations of the employer and what you will be getting before signing the contract. For example, if you are interested in moonlighting elsewhere in order to earn some extra income, you’d want to know that there is nothing stopping you from doing that in the contract. 

Third, an employer may not always have your best interests as their priority. It is very common for them to provide you with lower than average compensation packages that can affect your personal and professional life. Lawyers understand these terms and the ways in which they can be avoided. They are hired to have your back. 

How to Hire a Contract Lawyer

So, now that you know why you need a contract lawyer, here are some tips on how to hire one. Before you go googling for a contract lawyer, it would be highly advisable to check with your state’s medical association first. It’s a good source for you to find a contract lawyer that is well versed with the laws of the state that you are working in. Every state is going to be different, with different laws. So it is a good idea that you go through the list they provide. This will also help you ensure that the lawyer is licensed to practice in your state. 

Once you have figured out who you want to hire, you'll have to consider legal fees. These can be done in two ways: per hour, or a flat fee. You can choose to pay the attorney for the number of hours they work, or just let them know what you need and they will charge for their service once completed. This is something you can negotiate with them.  

Final Words

Remember: You'll basically be bound to a contract once you sign it. It might not matter later if you understood the terms on it or not when you signed. So it is important for you to make sure that what you are signing onto is going to benefit you. You’ve spent years studying to be a physician, so it should matter that your work pays off. A contract lawyer could help give you that expert opinion while also giving you a better perspective on the situation for you to understand what you can expect from your future employer, and what they'll expect from you.

Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH

Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH

Greg is a PGY-4 interventional radiology resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia. He graduated from UCLA with his BS in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences before moving across the country to New York City. While in New York, Greg obtained his Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology with an advanced certificate in applied biostatistics. He then went on to do his medical school training at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire. In June 2018, he started his post-graduate training with a surgical intern year at Jefferson before continuing there for his integrated interventional radiology residency. During his first year of diagnostic radiology, he began offering his services to various clients by any means possible and was able to make additional side income to help support his family through residency training. This is what sparked the idea for flipMD.

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