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Should I use a lawyer to review my employment contract?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

Would you recommend getting a lawyer to review employment / confidentiality contracts? I’m not sure how common this is, and what to watch for.

I recently was fortunate to receive an offer from an early-stage startup, and I recently received an offer letter and a confidentiality agreement. I'm curious if I should get my employment contract reviewed, and how to go about doing that.

Thanks,
Mani

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 months ago

    Guiding principle: the need for a lawyer is inversely proportional to how common the situation is.

    • Tens of thousands of engineers get offers from Big Tech (FAANG) every year, so you don't need a lawyer to review your offer letter -- it's standardized.
    • If you're entering into a one-off contracting relationship with a startup, especially with folks you don't trust as much, you probably should get legal cousel.

    Trust is transitive: if an offer letter or confidentiality agreement is good enough for hundreds or thousands of other people, it's probably good enough for you. Or at least it is sufficiently de-risked.

    To answer your question directly, for the early-stage startup:

    • How big is the company? Can you verify that you've been given the same terms on the offer letter/confidentiality agreement as the other employees?
    • Do you trust the founders of the early stage contract? It helps if you're in-person with them, as opposed to a remote employee across the world.

    If the company is large enough (10+ people) and you trust the founders, I wouldn't get a lawyer -- just read through the contracts carefully and ask about terms you don't know.

    If you'd like to get it reviewed by someone with more knowledge, you can use something like LegalZoom or fiverr if you're on a budget.