Scott Weavil began his career as a mergers & acquisitions associate in New York at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, before moving to Palo Alto and joining Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati PC. His interest in representing physicians stems from watching his wife, an obstetrician, and her peers dealing with disadvantageous contract terms and their real, quality-of-life implications.
Scott opened his practice to provide physicians with top-quality representation focused on their unique needs by leveraging a deep understanding of the issues doctors face. Involved in physician employment agreement negotiations since 2012, Scott has hands-on experience with how employment agreement terms affect physicians' practices, compensation, job satisfaction, and quality of life.
My cell phone rang. In my office, I was finishing up for the evening. It was early June 2012, and I was tying up loose ends getting ready to leave my job as a mergers and acquisitions attorney in New York. My wife, Mandi, had matched with a fellowship program in California, and we were preparing to go west. We were excited for the change. Her friends from residency were also excited: Most were about to graduate and take their first jobs as attendings. One of them, Emily,* was on the line.
When I answered, Emily excitedly told me about an offer she had from the perfect practice. It was back home in Indiana near her mom and sister. Although a private practice, it was affiliated with an academic hospital, so she’d have resident contact. It offered a great salary, and, overall, seemed liked the perfect fit. She wanted to know if I’d review the contract they had sent her. I told her that I wasn't an expert, but I’d be happy to take a look.
A few days later, an email from Emily popped up. It was the contract. In the email, Emily told me it was basically a done deal, but she wanted me to review it just in case.
I started reading. This was my first physician employment agreement. The contract started out innocuously enough. Eventually, I got to a clause saying that Emily could be terminated at any time for any or no reason. Termination at will is fairly standard, so I kept reading after adding it to my notes for Emily. Then I got to something odd. The contract went on to provide that if the practice terminated her, even for no reason, Emily would have to reimburse the practice for all of her past compensation. In a worst case scenario, she could be terminated the day before the contract expired, and the practice would essentially have gotten her to work for free for three years!
That seemed unfair and exploitative, and I told Emily so. It went way beyond an employer shading terms in its own interest. This seemed so bad, I told Emily she should consider not accepting the offer. In my mind, any group that would even attempt to get a physician to work for them on those terms probably wasn’t a practice she wanted to work for. But, I reiterated to Emily, I wasn't an expert.
Emily was excited about the offer, though, and, after negotiating a few changes – including eliminating the offending term – she signed the contract. Unfortunately, the dream job eventually turned into a nightmare, culminating in Emily making just 24% of her starting salary the first year she went off guarantee. I felt like I had let her down by not adequately stressing the importance of the contract enough, including the likely implication from some of the terms that this wasn’t going to be a good group to join. Read more about Emily's experience (under Are You Protected?)
While Emily was struggling to escape her first job, I was in California. Mandi had finished her fellowship and had accepted an offer in Lake Tahoe. We were ready! The lower cost of living, the mountain town atmosphere, the skiing and hiking – they were all positives.
A big negative for me, though, was the obvious fact that there wouldn’t be much M&A work in our small new town. So, I knew I’d need to find something else to do. I ended up starting a company called BumpBar that made pregnancy nutrition bars. Our customers liked them and we even won a new business of the year award, but, despite those successes, it just didn’t look like I was ever going to get the sales for it to be a success. Even though things weren’t going great for me with the business, Mandi was enjoying work and we were still happy about the move.
Occasionally, Emily’s travails would come up. I asked Mandi about how her other friends from residency were doing, expecting to find out that Emily’s experience was something of an outlier. I was surprised to hear that out of her OB/GYN residency class, one doctor had matched with a horrible fellowship, one worked for about two months before she stopped getting paychecks (the practice turned out to be bankrupt), and one was taking 75% of her group's call, including almost all the weekends and holidays. Add Emily to the mix, and the success rate wasn’t high for physicians in their first positions. Mandi mentioned that a practice helping physicians might be something for me to explore on the heels of winding down my business. There definitely was a need.
Still, the need didn’t really hit home until my wife’s contract came up for renegotiation. Her hospital had floated transitioning her to incentive-based compensation, but the lawyer she had used in the past didn’t really understand RVUs. So, I decided to learn all I could about physician compensation. With a better understanding of the system, we started gathering information. We learned that incentive-based compensation probably wasn’t right for Mandi.
That experience made the light bulb go off in my head. Physicians don’t just need a lawyer that understands contract terms. They need an advisor who understands their practice and their compensation – their lives. That’s when I decided to start a practice exclusively focused on helping physicians in employment negotiations.
As a physician, you’re there to give your patients the best possible outcome. The work doesn’t end with medical school and residency. That’s only the beginning. You work extremely hard in the office, the clinic, the OR, and everywhere else your practice takes you. And that’s not even counting all the nights, weekends, and holidays you spend at the hospital on call. As an attorney, I’m here to ensure you’re protected and that hard work is rewarded. You’ve earned it.
*This situation is based on the experience of a friend, an OB/GYN. Names and other identifying details have been changed to protect her privacy, but the events happened as described.
Education & Activities
VANDERBILT LAW SCHOOL
Managing Editor, Vanderbilt Law Review
DELAWARE COURT OF CHANCERY
Law Clerk to the Hon. John W. Noble
SKADDEN, ARPS, SLATE, MEAGHER & FLOM, LLP
Associate, Mergers & Acquisitions
WILSON, SONSINI, GOODRICH & ROSATI, P.C.
Activities & Affiliations
Member, American Health Lawyers Association
Former Commissioner, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency - Advisory Planning Commission
Founding Vice President & Board Member, Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless
Vice President & Board Member, Lake Tahoe Search & Rescue
• New York
The deal terms matter. I'm here to help.