Working closely with healthcare professionals in my practice, I’ve noticed a number of trends over the past 5 years. These trends are often related to legal issues that arise at different phases of their careers.
Entering a Practice
First, many new physicians and dentists, when getting out of their residency and starting their career, do not really understand the concept of restrictive covenants of the non-compete in their employment contracts.
The non-compete clause can be incredibly harmful to new physicians and dentists when moving forward in their career. The clause will have a geographical restriction of where the physician or dentist can practice after said employment, which will impede upon their own practice in the future. Having an attorney review their employment contracts beforehand can help to avoid an ambiguous and/or geographically-expansive restriction, so that in the future, the physician or dentist is able to continue working where they choose after the employment.
Expanding a Practice
The second trend I’ve noticed relates to healthcare professionals who are well into their career and are expanding their practices to include additional associates and independent contractors. Determining whether the new associate is an employee or an independent contractor under the law can be very difficult. The choice they make may have a detrimental effect on the employer.
If the employer hires a new associate as an independent contractor, but the state determines that in fact that independent contractor is actually deemed an employee, the employer may be required to pay back taxes and penalties from the government because they weren’t withholding taxes. This is something employers really need to make sure they understand; it is a frequent issue.
Leaving a Practice
Third, as healthcare professionals are starting to consider retirement or phasing themselves out of their practice, their main concern is whether contingencies are in place so that the practice may continue.
- Is there a partner in the practice, or will a new partner be added?
- Is there a Power of Attorney in place?
- If the practice is a legal entity, are the correct contracts in place so the healthcare professional can withdraw or remove themselves from the practice easily and without detriment to the practice?
- If the practice will be sold, how will the sale transpire?
Healthcare professionals, at the conclusion of their careers, want to end on a good note. Without these contingencies in place, it’s difficult to achieve this goal.
I work with healthcare professionals to ensure their practices run smoothly and efficiently and that they are able to make an easy transition into retirement. Are you taking care of your legal matters as well as you take care of your patients?
Stephanie J. Rodin, Esq.
Rodin Legal, P.C.
Tel: (917) 345-8972
Fax: (917) 591-4428