The Letter of Intent as Part of the Employment Contract
Many physicians, dentists and other healthcare professionals begin the employment contract process with a letter of intent. The employer may ask the prospective employee to sign a letter of intent before preparing the actual contract. A Letter of intent is usually a short, one to two page document which outlines some of the terms of the proposed employment arrangement.
Some Letters of Intent are Actually Contracts
It is important to carefully review the language of a letter of intent before signing it. Most letters of intent are in the form of a letter outlining some of the terms the parties anticipate will be in the contract. However, sometimes a letter of intent contains a specific agreement to certain terms, such as the position, the salary, the schedule and the start date. While this may seem to be an unimportant distinction, if not handled correctly, it can be the source of immeasurable problems later.
Negotiations Following Letters of Intent
The best letters of intent are for informational purposes. A typical physician, dentist or other healthcare professional employment contract can run from 10 to 30 pages depending on how clear the employer is in the contract. Due to the limited length of the letter of intent, many important details are not included in a short letter. Therefore, following the letter of intent, there are frequently many remaining issues the parties need to agree upon in the employment contract process. Agreements in a letter of intent may make it harder renegotiate important terms later.
The Letter of Intent May Make the Contract Unnecessary
Even more dangerous, the letter of intent may actually be a binding contract on its own. If the parties cannot later agree on the other terms, the employer may rely on the letter of intent and its’ own interpretation of important remaining terms. The employee may be stuck with a “take it or leave it” scenario, or may even run the risk of accusations of a breach of contract, leading to penalties.
The Bluestein Law Firm helps doctors review and consider the potential risks and concerns in letters of intent and employment contracts. If you are a physician or other healthcare professional and are looking for specific legal advice about a letter of intent or employment contract, contact the Bluestein Law Firm at (720) 420-1777 or by email to set up a complimentary consultation.