Avoid Getting Caught in the Weeds: Tips on Contracts, Negotiations and Other Legal Trends

Understanding contracts heavy with legal jargon can present a challenge for the most seasoned healthcare professional working in today’s frequently litigious society. To help dermatology PAs and others sift through the legalese of employment contracts and related documents, SDPA held a well-attended workshop at its 19th Annual Fall Dermatology Conference in Los Angeles, November 2022, featuring Tara M. Bright, JD, Esq, and Nia Doaks, Esq., MBA, both of Poyner Spruill, LLP.

“When you negotiate a contract, the goal should always be that [the contract] is clear, unambiguous, and as explicit as possible,” Bright said in her opening remarks. “That goes for every clause, every provision, every document. These agreements are held as law so you must protect yourself.”

The attorneys caution attendees to consider their future employment, salary, and potential termination before signing documents. While no one wants to think about being terminated before starting a new job, Bright said it is extremely important to make sure your interests regarding severance, notice, and potential cause for termination are explicitly spelled out in a contract. For example, if the contract permits termination without notice, Bright recommends negotiating the point to ensure you aren’t blindsided with a job loss.

Another interesting point of discussion involves boilerplate paragraphs that frequently appear throughout contracts. “Take the extra time to read the boilerplate and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” said Bright, cautioning that it’s not uncommon to miss extremely relevant information buried in the dense language you may mistake as meaningless.

Doaks notes other important areas of discussion might involve non-compete agreements that prohibit you from entering into competition with an employer after a specified time period. “Non-compete rules change depending on where you live,” said Doaks. “We don’t generally like non-competes, but they are enforceable in some states.”

Listen to the entire workshop on the podcast titled, “Drafting, Interpreting, and Negotiating Contracts & Current Legal Trends” available here.


  • Pictured: Nia Doaks, Esq., MBA, and Tara M. Bright, JD, Esq., both of Poyner Spruill, LLP.
  • Byline: Kim Coghill, SDPA Director of Communications