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Professors Chris Coughlin and Hal Lloyd help guide medical residents through the contract negotiation process

Wake Forest Law Professors Chris Coughlin and Hal Lloyd met with medical residents at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine to discuss issues around physician employment contracts on Tuesday, March 5.

The professors reviewed actual employment contracts with the medical residents and discussed possible pitfalls and areas of concerns, such as covenants not to compete,that many times end in litigation.

Professor Lloyd, a former general counsel with The Fresh Market, also teaches contract drafting.

“When people sign an employment contract, they often do not question the language and assume that everything will work out,” he explained.  “It is only after problems arise, that people start reviewing the language of the contract.  We wanted to make these physicians aware of how these contracts work and when they should seek legal counsel.”

Coughlin added, “It is better for the residents to be prepared to ask the questions up front, than face the possibility of litigation once a problem arises. We want to make sure that the contract they sign at the beginning actually reflects their understanding of the terms of the employment.  So, we tried to demystify much of the ‘legalease’ in contracts so that they would understand what the terms meant and how they would be used.”

Because the medical residents will soon be entering full-time medical practices, learning to read and understand an employment contract is an invaluable skill.

The professors said they enjoyed working with the medical residents and discussed other opportunities for collaboration.

“We can learn so much from working with the other professional schools in our university,” Coughlin said.