Associate Contracts: What to Look For in Your Next Contract

A manila envelope appears on your desk with your new contract. It’s all there in black and white—the terms, salary, perks, and expectations.

While an employment contract can seem intimidating at first, it’s really just a road map for two parties who want to arrive at the same destination. You want to be fairly compensated for doing an excellent job for your practice. The practice wants to create a framework so that they can satisfy your needs at this point in your career. 

It is essential to understand what your contract promises and what it does not, and it is critical to do so before you sign it. Here are a few of the major areas to cover:

Salary and bonuses

Your salary should be clearly stated and specific metrics for bonuses or profit sharing disclosed. You are by no means obligated to accept the salary offered if it does not meet your expectations. Speak frankly and clearly if you want more money. Most employers will not want to lose you over a few thousand dollars, and if they are willing to draw a line in the sand, at least you know where you stand.

Promises of stock or future ownership

It is not uncommon for a professional to join a practice with the promise of ownership in the future. If this is the case, make sure the promise is in writing with specific benchmarks, dates, and goals detailed. There are many times an owner who is nearing retirement may make verbal promises about the transition of a business but gets cold feet as the date approaches. This is not an indictment of their honor; it’s a natural thing that can happen because the reality of retirement is a lot scarier than the concept of it. Concrete plans work to everyone’s benefit. 


What is the cell phone allowance? Is the health insurance cost open-ended, or is it tied to a specific maximum? Does your 401(k) match include salary only or also bonuses and profit sharing? Make sure these things match your understanding and address them before signing the contract if they don’t. 

Job description and scope

Look for changes in the scope of the job requirements and benchmarks, and be sure they are matching your needs. 

Should I get my contract reviewed by a lawyer?

In most cases, you should have any significant contract reviewed before signing it. If your employer objects, it could be a red flag. 

If your employment contract isn’t what you expect and you are having problems working things out, contact your ETS recruiter. We talk to practices every day, and we could have the perfect opportunity for you.


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