Urgent advice needed...

I got an offer for internship and finally had the time to read the contract before I sign and fax it back.

I know this probably will be a standard item for full-time employment contract but I am just a little surprised to find it on an internship contract.

Basically, it says that agree not to solicit or perform consulting services for this company’s clients, recruit any of their current employee for 2 years after my conclusion of the internship.

I am a bit concerned because this company is a design consultant firm and they get clients from all over the place. I will need to find a job upon graduation. Will this limit my possibilities later? What should I do? It’s Friday and almost time for off-office hour. If I were to call them, it will be Monday. Since I have held this document for a week already, I want to return it ASAP.

All the instructors in school have left for spring break, so I am pretty helpless now.

Signing a NONCOMPETE like that seems a bit extreme for an intern. They are probably having you sign the same contract that their full time designers sign when they accept full time positions. You should bring up your concern with them and see what they say. If they’re relatively reasonable I don’t see why they wouldn’t alter it to fit your needs in this case.

BTW, congrats on scoring an internship AND having the wits to read the contract before you sign it…

Dude, I wouldn’t sign a non compete for an internship!

A non dislosure is a must though.

w/out seeing the contract its hard to advise. but not chasing clients or employees doesnt sound unreasonable to me. if that was ALL it said i’d insert this:

“not to solicit or perform consulting services for this company’s clients WITH WHOM I WORK DURING MY INTERNSHIP.”

if they questioned why added this into contract, i’d say - “How am I supposed to know ALLLLL your clients? I’m JUST an intern.”

Tell them you will gladly sign if they would turn over thier entire client list so you don’t breach the contract. :wink:

do they mean that you cant do freelance work for their present clients or that you cant be part of their internal design team??

If the former then that sounds fair to me especially considering that you would be privy to information and methods that you would not have otherwise.

If the latter then you should ask if they can alter the non-compete to give you a break.

Even so I would still take the internship. How many clients can they possibly have??

Ok, here’s the full text (of course I have replaced the name of the firm to ABC):

During the term of my employment by ABC, and for two years after its conclusion, I will not solicit or perform consulting services for ABC clients or recruit, solicit or hire any current or former employee of ABC. Any clients with whom I have an established personal consulting agreement prior to this contract with ABC that are listed on an addendum to this agreement signed by ABC, and any clients not under agreement with ABC during my term of service with ABC are to be excluded from the restriction in the preceding sentence.

As you know consultancys do work for companies that have their own ID divisions, which will also be among my possibilities to be employed at when I graduate. Does this statement limit my chances? Does being hired by their current clients in the future violate this term?

Enough to reduce my employment opportunities significantly!

sounds to me like you cant freelance for present clients. Doesnt mean you cant get a job with them. Sounds fair to me

As I understand it, it seems that it keeps you from being a consultant to their clients, but leaves the door open to work for them full time. You could clarify this with them as well. I would follow Guest’s advice and get a full client list though. If you want to freelance after (or during) school, you’ll want to know who is off limits.

actually those things are very difficult to enforce, so you might want to just take te internship and cross that bridge if you ever get to it down the line.

yo is right. this probably won’t become an issue for you (though you’re right in being so dilligent about this). sure, the employer doesn’t want you to take what you learn about their work and process to their competitor, but you also have a right to earn a living. if this were to end up in court, you’d plead that your skills are in this area and so you have to have the right to work in this area.

so they expect you to turn over the list of your clients (past clients)?

However it does seem rather fair overall.
But if you’re not sure, call and discuss, and that will also show the company that you’re serious attentive to details and actually read the contract.

these things never end up in court. It is unlikely that a firm would waste the money it takes to begin to settle this type of dispute.

While I agree that the chances of them taking him to court are virtually non-existent, I don’t think it’s a good practice to sign legal documents with the intention of disregarding them. What good are contracts if the people who agree to them feel no obligation to abide by them? This starts to tread in the same arena of signing an NDA and then not keeping the work out of sight until you’ve gotten the “OK” to show it…

M-cow, just call them up and let them know your concerns.

It wouldn´t hurt if you had a little conversation with a solicitor and asked him for the REAL tights this kind of contract imposes on you. I mean maybe they don´t even have the right to enforce this type of clauses in the end.

sign it and right underneath state with invisible ink: screw you. so after your internship is over tell’em to put it under UV detector.

I will call them on Monday to ask about it then, but I am glad it isn’t as serious as I thought it is.

Thanks guys!

Remember that what you are asked to sign is most likely the “boiler plate” agreement for all employees hired by the company and typically gains relevance and teeth as the number of years of employment increases. Agreements like this are written as broadly as possible in order to establish an “on notice” expectation of behavior but the bottom line is that it can not be used as an instrument to prevent you from making a living, now or later, as long as the spirit of intent is understood. (to prevent a proactive pursuit of employer’s clients and design assets)

The idea that you have a desire to understand the expectations completely, so that you feel confident that you can fulfill those expectations, would tell most people that your moral compass is on due north. So relax and enjoy your design adventures.