As an attorney, I have too often been contacted by someone who had an agreement blow up in their face and they are asking what to do now.
The best way to handle a contract of any significance is to hire an attorney and then work with them to review the contract. During the review of the contract, you, as the client, should tell your attorney what you want and what you don’t want. An attorney can never negotiate on your behalf, if you don’t know enough about your contract to tell them what needs you have. Additionally, if while going through the contract, your attorney glosses over a term and you do not understand it, ASK. The lawyer will explain it to you, and it might turn out to be something that you do not actually want to have in your contract.
Lawyers also get you what you want. The other side might send you a contract that looks like it is all finished and you have to agree, or you cannot participate at all. This is not true a lot of the time. As the other party to the contract, you and your attorney can push back. If your relationship with the other party is important to you, then send it to each other’s lawyers. I am not afraid of a little conflict with another attorney to get you want you want. Then, later, when the contract is signed, you never spend time arguing with the other party, you can blame all the arguing on your lawyer (trust me, I will take that on). Your relationship is saved, but you also end up with a fair contract that protects your interests.
Granted, I realize that some of you will eschew hiring an attorney because you think it is just not worth the cost. (hint, hint… an attorney is pretty much always worth the cost up front, they save you money later when you contract never comes back to haunt you) If you decide to take this route, then you need to work even harder to understand every term in the contract. That means you have to even read all of the terms at the end of the contract that look a little boring. At this time more than ever, you have resources as your disposal, if you do not understand a portion of the contract, Google it. If you still cannot figure out what the term means, ask the other party in writing. If they define it, they will be stuck with the definition of the term they provided to you. I hope that I do not have to tell you of the horror stories that clients have come to me with when a contract did not work out in their favor after they signed a contract they did not understand. Be smart! Read and understand everything before you sign anything.
I hear one thing a lot from my clients… it is too expensive to have you review this contract, so I just signed it. Granted, I have very reasonable prices for my services (email me and I will tell you more), but what my clients are not considering at the time of signing is the possible repercussions if something goes wrong. Often these repercussions are financial, and could have been prevented by having an advocate on their side. This is hard to see because, if your lawyer does a great job, and nothing goes wrong, you do not think to go and pat your lawyer on the back for a job well done, instead, you assume that all contracts should go smoothly, so it is just the norm. Change that point of view… Your lawyer is there to PROTECT you and make sure if anything goes wrong that you will come out on top. That also persuades the other side of the contract to follow the terms since they know if they do not do what they should, that they will be the losers.
Moral of the story… (also the title of the story), do not sign an agreement without understanding all of the terms.
Notice: This email is attorney advertising and does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which is only formed when you have signed an engagement agreement. No information provided to Initiate Advancement Legal Solutions will be confidential unless an engagement agreement has been signed between you and the firm. All information provided is not advice, and should not be relied upon as such We cannot guarantee results; past results do not guarantee future results.
Author: Aimee Haynes
I motivate, I blog, I listen, I give advice, I help, I create, I work with others, I stand my ground when needed, and I am always open to new ideas. In addition to the qualities that define me most, I'm also a Corporate Law attorney working with entrepreneurs, creatives, and small businesses to help them achieve success.