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Will a noncompete clause keep you from starting your own practice?

Whether you are starting your career as a doctor or you are looking to make a change, it can be helpful to join other doctors in an established practice. The owners already have experience and a good reputation in the community. It can be a mutually beneficial trade. They can add more patients, and you can gain experience.

Some physicians thrive working in an office owned by someone else. While you may have to answer to an employer, you do not have to worry about the liability that comes with being in charge. Eventually, however, some doctors look for more freedom and the power to make their own decisions.

Here’s what you need to know about your noncompete clause and what it could mean for starting your practice.

The purpose of a noncompete clause

Just like the name implies, employers use noncompete clauses to limit competition and secure their clients. No matter what business a person is, it can take a long time to develop a reputation and client-base.

Fortunately, if you are trying to avoid a conflict with a noncompete clause, employees have the advantage. While the provision is intended to protect employers, courts want to make sure employees have some freedom to change jobs and start their own businesses.

Getting out on your own

At first glance, a noncompete clause can seem restrictive. It may sound like a list of “no’s: with few “yes’s.” Now that you want to start your own practice, look at the noncompete clause from the view of what you can do. Noncompete clauses tend to limit factors, such as:

  • Distance from the business’s primary location
  • The time before working as a direct competitor
  • Recruiting other employees

Even when there are limitations, there still needs to be some freedom to stay within your profession without being under that specific employer. Keep in mind that you may be able to get out of a clause that is too limiting.

In short, even if you signed a noncompete clause when you joined a larger practice, you still likely have some freedom to start your own, just within certain limitations.

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