Question: While the non-profit I work for searched for an Executive Director, I served as Interim Executive Director. I have been told the Board views me to be their favorite candidate. I am also told the Board had wanted to hire someone with a Masters degree, which I do not have, and that the Board would like to offer me a salary below the advertised salary, so that they can hire a consultant to assist me.

Do you think I should hire an attorney to help me negotiate my salary and my contract?

Noah, from Anniston, AL
(All names are changed)

Answer: You should always use attorneys, and other professionals, (a) when necessary, and (b) to the extent necessary. No more, no less. In your circumstances, I suggest you consult with an experienced employment attorney, as soon as possible.

In negotiating employment contracts, it is always worthwhile to (a) consult with an attorney about your negotiation strategy, so that he or she can guide you, and serve as a sounding board for your thoughts, ideas and concerns; (b) once an agreement is reached on basic terms (such as salary, term, benefits, job description), then you should always use an attorney to make sure the written document is accurate and comprehensive.

I say these things because I have had so very many people come to me with problems in their employment that would probably have been prevented by having a trained, experienced, watchful eye on your side.

Incidentally, in deciding whether to choose a particular attorney to work with, don’t be reluctant to inquire to make sure:

(a) The attorney has experience in representing employees at your level in employment contracts. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, so you can ask others if they were pleased with his or her work and work style;
(b) The attorney has never represented your employer, or other organizations like it, because he or she might be subconsciously tempted to see your matter as an “introduction” to a potential organizational client; and
(c) The attorney has a mindset more inclined to the business world than the courtroom. He or she must understand that the goal of your efforts is to build a strong, long-lasting working relation, not to vanquish or conquer an opponent.

We offer a Model Letter Seeking Information from a Prospective Attorney Prior to Retention. If interested in obtaining this Model Letter [click here.]

Hope this helps. The rest is up to you, and your employment attorney.

Best, Al Sklover

P.S.: If you would like to obtain a list of five or more experienced, “employee-side” employment attorneys in your city, just [click here]. Delivered by Email – Instantly!