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5 Things to Consider Before Signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement

Non-Disclosure agreements, or NDA’s, are becoming an increasingly popular legal document in this idea-driven economy. From entertainment to technology, companies are using NDA’s to ensure that employees do not expose or share proprietary information with outside entities. If you are asked to sign an NDA at a new job, there are several things to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line. Below are just five things to consider before you sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Know the Terms:
NDA’s can be complicated documents populated with legalese. As such, it may take a moment to read through the document and understand its core tenets. Always give yourself the time you need to carefully read over the document and do not hesitate to ask questions about the specifics in the NDA. Remember, the burden is on you to understand the terms of the NDA before you sign because once pen has been put to paper, there is no turning back.

Is It Reasonable?:
As you read over the document and begin to understand the specific parameters of the NDA, it is important to constantly ask yourself ‘is this reasonable?’ Most NDA’s will clearly outline their expectations for terms such as the duration of the agreement, what constitutes a breach and what happens when you leave the company. If any of these terms seem particularly onerous, mention them to your contact at the company. Hopefully, they will explain the terms in greater detail or you can perhaps even negotiate a change in the document.

Length of Time:
One of the most important things to watch out for when signing a non-disclosure agreement is the length of time that it remains valid. Most NDA’s remain valid for no more than five years after an employee leaves the company. But if the NDA you are reviewing specifies more time than that, you may want to have a discussion with your supervisor as that NDA may cause trouble when you move forward in your career.

What is a Breach?:
It is also vital that you understand what the company considers to be a breach of its NDA terms. In this technology driven world, you need to understand what can get you in hot water. For example, an NDA may specify that you are not allowed to access work-related documents from your home computer due to security risks. You may simply want to catch up on work over the weekend but this can potentially get you fired. Know the parameters of the document before you sign and you will better understand the bounds in which you may operate.

Do You Want This Job?:
One of the most important things to consider before signing an NDA is if you really want this job. If you’re uncertain about the position or have mixed feelings, you may not want to sign this powerful, legal document. But if you’re passionate about the position and it will help advance your career, then perhaps you will be more flexible in your opinion towards signing.

It’s up to you to understand the specifics of every non-disclosure agreement you intend to sign. Know the terms and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Moreover, it’s also important to understand the laws of whichever state you are in. The non-disclosure laws in Texas may be different than those in California, so be prepared and knowledgeable before you sign.

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