What is an Employment Contract Review?
An employment contract review is a task performed by an employment lawyer to analyze an employment agreement between an employer and employee for fairness, thoroughness, and legal compliance. The lawyer is typically an expert in employment law and will read all the language in the agreement to provide feedback to their client, make sure the terms align with their client’s expectations, and answer questions.
Lawyers may also make recommended edits in the form of comments or redlines so the employee can negotiate better employment terms. Employees should consider hiring legal representation of their own to ensure they are receiving a good offer that’s legally compliant.
Employment contracts are legal agreements between employers and employees that outline the terms of employment, including things like job responsibilities, compensation terms, benefits, and more.
Top Terms to Review in an Employment Contract
The top terms an employment attorney will review in an employment contract review include:
- Correctly identified role of employee
- Adequately defined duties
- At-will employment language
- Proposed wages, benefits, and other compensation
- Confidentiality agreement
- Non-solicitation language
- Non-compete agreement
- Compliance with state and federal wage laws
- Term of employment
- Termination provisions
- Dispute resolution procedures
Here is a web page that offers a state labor laws guide for more information.
Types of Employment Contract Review
There are two types of employment contract reviews, including simple and complex. The type of review you choose will depend upon the type of employment deal being structured.
Here’s a closer look at each one below:
Simple Employment Contract Review
Simple employment contract reviews are a high-level analysis of the proposed agreement and typically do not involve any sort of negotiation with the employer. Employment lawyers will review the contract for:
- Satisfactory terms for the client
- Parties adequately identified and named
- Contract completeness
- Explanation of risks, limitations, and privileges
- Findings and recommendations for re-negotiation
Simple reviews will typically not involve the lawyer negotiating with the employer on your behalf or doing a thorough job in redlining the agreement. The purpose of a simple contract review is to make sure the employee’s expectations of the employment terms align with what are in the contract, and to make sure the contract is legally compliance.
Complex Employment Contract Review
Complex employment contract reviews involve an initial contract analysis, proposed redlines to improve the employees’ position, and sometimes negotiation between the employee and employer. These projects may also be on behalf of executives where their employment terms include equity compensation or other complex terms that require a deeper analysis by the lawyer.
Complex employment contract reviews may involve the following:
- Initial consultation call to discuss terms of employment and concerns
- Thorough employment agreement review
- Presentation of findings and recommendations
- Discussion with the other party to reach a satisfactory agreement
- Executive employment contract revisions
- Executive compensation and equity negotiations
- Employment duration negotiations
- Severance package negotiations
- Written vs. implied enforceability reviews
Typically, complex employment contract reviews will be required for high compensation employees where there may be more complex terms of employment.
How Much Does it Cost for a Lawyer to Review an Employment Contract?
It is worth noting that each project is unique and may have different requirements. When posting a job, you should make it clear the level of support you are looking for, questions you want answered, and most critical terms you want in the contract.
How Do Lawyers Charge for Employment Contract Review Services?
Lawyers typically charge flat rate or hourly fees for employment contract reviews and will depend on how complex the work required is. It is worth noting that the specific fee structure can vary depending on the lawyer and the complexity of the contract being reviewed.
For simple reviews, you often see a lawyer provide a flat fee quote to perform the work since negotiation and thorough redlining is not typically required. For more complex contract reviews, lawyer may charge hourly, often requiring a retainer, since they are not sure how much time will be required in redlining and negotiations with the potential employer.
How much does it cost for contract review lawyer fees exactly? Let’s take a closer look:
Lawyer Hourly Fees
Lawyer hourly fees for employment contract reviews generally range from $150 to $400 per hour. Hourly rates depend upon numerous factors, including year of experience, whether the lawyer is a solo practitioner or works for a law firm, and the complexity of the evaluation.
Flat-Fee Contract Review
Flat-fee employment contract reviews start at $200 for simple reviews and exceed a couple thousand dollars for complex ones. A flat fee review rate depends upon the employment lawyer’s experience, level of involvement, and the type of work needing to be performed. For example, if the client requires the lawyer to make thorough redline markups or negotiate with the lawyer on their behalf, a lawyer will typically charge a higher flat fee rate.
Here is an article about the contract review process.
What’s Typically Included in Employment Contract Review Service Fees?
Attorneys’ fees for a contract review typically include the consultation, review, and analysis of the agreement, proposed redlines, and handling memos and calls. The result is a solid determination regarding the fairness and enforceability of your contract.
Clients may also choose to retain the lawyer to negotiate on their behalf with the employer, depending on the results of the initial review of the document. Contract negotiation typically involves an additional fee.
Here is what is included in each service:
Consultations are opportunities for you and your legal representative to discuss the particulars of your contract. Consultations with employment lawyers typically include:
- Background intake
- Communication of client’s understanding of terms
- Overview of concerns
Review & Analysis
Employment contract reviews and analysis offer employees more information regarding the proposed agreement’s enforceability, implication, alignment with terms, and fairness. An attorney contract review and analysis include:
- Employee job security analysis
- Position start and end dates
- Termination clause analysis
- Compensation and benefits analysis
- Legality and fairness of job description
- Exclusivity review
- Reviews of other provisions
Proposed redlines are your attorney’s recommendations on changing the terms to be fairer for the employee. Some lawyers physically write their notes in red ink as part of your review, but most will use tracked changes in Microsoft word files. Others may type up their findings and recommendations into a formal letter or memo.
Lawyers will typically have a call with their clients after reviewing their employment contract to discuss their findings and answer additional questions. If the lawyer has made any proposed redlines to improve the terms of the agreement, they will typically go over these on the call and discuss strategies for their client to negotiate better terms with the employer.
Negotiation with Employer
If a client wants to engage in negotiations with their employer, they may hire the lawyer to negotiate on their behalf. This includes the lawyer contacting the employer and providing them with suggested edits to the employment contract on behalf of the employee. The lawyer and employer will then engage in back-n-forth negotiations to get the terms of the contract to a place where both parties are happy. Clients typically engage lawyers for negotiation when contracts involve larger compensation packages and terms that are concerning from the outset.
What Type of Lawyer Do I Want for Employment Contract Review?
Employment lawyers with experience in your industry are best-suited for reviewing employment contracts. They have experience, training, and first-hand knowledge regarding specific issues employees face across your industry, as well as ‘fair’ terms offered by employers. Given an employment lawyer will work with many clients, they have a good view on what normal terms are for a given role in your industry. If you want reassurance regarding your contract’s fairness, always have employment lawyers conduct a thorough contract review and follow through on their legal advice.
For example, if you are a dentist and want a Dental Associate Contract reviewed, it is important to find a dental lawyer with employment experience who understands the intricacies of the industry and what is fair for your role.
What Information Will You Need Ready?
The information that you supply to an employment contract review attorney will affect your overall result. If you are more thorough with the information you provide, you may find your employment agreement review results more satisfactory than leaving out key details.
Your Employment Background
Your employment background, criminal history, credit score, and specialized skills are negotiation points for some positions. Employment background documents to bring with you during a contract review includes:
- Copy of your resume or CV
- Identification or social security card copies
- Copies of licenses and certifications
- List of your specialized skills
- Copy of your credit report
- Copy of a background check
- Reasonable accommodation recommendations
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Information About New Role
The information about your new role will help your employer lawyer determine legal compliance with state and federal laws. Employment background documents to bring with you during a contract review includes:
- Original job posting
- Job offer letter from the employer
- Interview notes you’ve taken
- Employer handbooks
- Copies of forms you’ve completed
Your Questions and Concerns
Answering questions about your contract are another essential service that contract lawyers provide. They can address your immediate concerns and provide legal advice on how to handle them.
Examples of questions to ask your employment attorney include:
- Am I receiving fair compensation for my given background?
- What are the legal implications associated with signing this contract?
- Do you see anything glaringly wrong with this contract?
- Is there anything missing from this contract?
- How can I renegotiate unfavorable terms with my employer?
Your priorities as an employee are different from the priorities of your employer. Companies generally approach contracts with stakeholders in mind. Ensure that someone is considering yours by sharing them with employment lawyers.
Examples of Priorities
Examples of employment contract priorities include:
- Term of employment
Here is a web page about labor laws and issues to help better prepare.
What Is a Reasonable Turnaround Time for Employment Contract Review?
Normal turnaround times for employment contract reviews can typically range from 24 hours to a business week. The turnaround time for your contract review depends upon the complexity of your employment agreement, current workload of the lawyer you hired, and whether any types of negotiations are involved.
Can I Negotiate My Employment Contract?
You can negotiate your employment contract. However, you run the risk of your prospective employer walking away from the offer. Before negotiating an employment contract, ensure that you have a negotiable point and leverageable competencies.
Hiring a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf will allow you to know what terms are fair to negotiate and what terms may not be open for negotiation. Employment lawyers have a lot of experience negotiating with employers and can advise where an employer may be able to change their terms versus where they may be more rigid.
Here is an article about how to negotiate a contract.
Get Help with Your Employment Contract
Get help with your employment contract by hiring employment lawyers. They will ensure that someone is looking out for your rights and interests as an employee.
Work takes away a large amount of our time and attention in life. Both parties are making a significant investment in each other. Protect your future career by working with employment lawyers to help determine if you are receiving a fair deal.