When you own or manage a business, contracts become commonplace. Yet it is important to not become complacent about signing contracts. Businesses enter into contracts in order to protect their interests; thus, a significant amount of money or other resources may be at stake. Should a contract dispute arise, the cost to your business only increases. It is advisable to have all your business contracts reviewed by an attorney for these five reasons:
- To clarify intent when you are signing.
- Sometimes when a contract dispute arises, it is because only one party misunderstood the other party’s intent when signing the contract. An attorney will make this intent clear when drawing-up a contract or reviewing one on your behalf. The attorney will be looking for language that is not clear or terms that can mask the true intent of the contract, and its eventual impact on your business. It is the attorney’s job to question the unclear language and clear it up with appropriate language.
- To prevent misinterpretation of language.
- This reason is related to #1, because unclear language often leads to misinterpretation on the part of one or both parties. The word “assume” might enter into a subsequent conversation, and we all know that assuming something is accurate or true is not always the same as it being true. An attorney will question contract language to ensure that the meaning and intent of the words are clear to you and to anyone who reads the contract.
- So you don’t break any laws.
- Business is regulated in many ways by various governing bodies and agencies. If you have not studied these laws, it is unlikely you would know about all of them, or even all parts of any given law or regulation. Without this knowledge, you could enter into a contract that is, essentially, illegal without ever intending to do so.
- So you don’t get scammed.
- There are skilled white-collar criminals who are capable of deceiving any business owner. An attorney understands how contracts can be a tool for those who would like to gain access to your money or other resources, and can better recognize when a contract deviates from the standard in a way that harms your interests.
- To avoid future legal problems.
- Sometimes contracts are disputed because of payment terms or the parties’ duties and obligations. An attorney has experience with many types of contracts, and is able to recognize a potential area of dispute and recommend an effective revision before the contract is signed.
You may be wondering if it is “worth it” to pay an attorney’s fee to review your contracts. Remember that the fee you pay upfront may save you much more money in the future by ensuring the contract protects your interests and does not result in a contract dispute. Do not let your next contract become an example of “you don’t know what you don’t know.”