At more than 20 veterinary schools in the United States this month, newly minted veterinarians will be entering the workforce.

Veterinary practices have changed over time and so have the business and legal issues that practice owners need to consider before hiring new associates, whether they are fresh out of school or have been practicing for some time.

Veterinarians, as professionals, know important their schooling and experience is to their clients, and they need to also realize that other professionals such as lawyers, accountants and business consultants can be invaluable to a practice that is hiring new associates, expanding or going through a change of ownership.

Lawyer Edward Guiducci of Guiducci and Guiducci, a law firm specializing in the veterinary business, spoke a couple of years ago at the Western Veterinary Conference on hiring new associates (read about it here), and the pitfalls of interviewing and what can and can’t be asked of job applicants.

Guiducci said anyone (including veterinarians, managers or a hiring team member) who interviews applicants or otherwise participates in the hiring process should be trained to recognize what can and cannot properly be said to an applicant.

He reminded attendees that it is illegal to base any hiring or employment decision on a person’s age, race, national origin, religion, gender, or handicap/disability. The practice can be exposed to an EEOC or state labor board complaint and/or being sued for discrimination.

What is appropriate to ask are questions focusing on knowledge, skills and abilities that relate to the job for which applicant is interviewing.

If you are going to hire a new veterinary graduate or other new associate, it’s wise to reach out to a business professional to make sure you and your practice (and your new colleague) are protected in your business arrangement.

Guiducci offers advice on his website on issues for buyers and sellers when associates buy in, creating and negotiating associate contracts, and other information to help veterinary practices remain successful through change.