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Why you should negotiate and work with your healthcare attorney on your letter of intent

           June 11, 2015
 
Question:

Hi Jennifer,

I just finished residency and I am waiting for a contract from my prospective employer.  I received a letter of intent that doesn't look binding.  Do I need to run this by you or to negotiate this?

Thanks, 
Dr. P

Answer:

Absolutely, and here is why: your letter of intent sets to stage for negotiation, and many employers take the position that if you don't exercise your right to assert a position, you've lost your chance.  Compensation, benefits, restrictions, termination, some of these key points may present themselves in a letter of intent, but not necessarily all.  Most likely the main element addressed will be your compensation - to hook you in to the job - make you feel invested.  Often times basic compensation terms are in the letter of intent with details of how it is earned and when it is paid left for the full length contract.  Which, in fact, may turn the employer into the one negotiating in bad faith.  Taking for granted the "non-binding" brand on your letter of intent may cause you to lose negotiating power in your employment discussions.  In fact, you may want to skip this exercise entirely and request the full length agreement before signing anything, that way all cards are laid on the table. 

Regardless, you should not sign, even if it says non-binding, without having the terms reviewed. 
 
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