A significant portion of our business practice involves drafting, revising, and reviewing contracts, and we frequently receive requests for contract reviews from prospective clients. All too often, however, this review is requested after the contract has already been signed, at which point we can only provide information and clarification regarding the agreement which is already in place. As one might imagine, this is not the ideal time to seek a contractual review. By consulting with an attorney BEFORE actually signing a contract, one can ensure the document fairly and accurately represents the intent of the parties signing the agreement.
While many contracts, such as credit card receipts, are never expected to be read, let alone reviewed, any agreement involving a significant amount of money or time should be reviewed by an attorney. Many contracts appear to be standard “boilerplate” or non-negotiable, but this is not always the case. Frequently, with the help of a competent attorney, terms and conditions can be modified, added, or removed to protect your interests. Occasionally, even inadvertent errors can be corrected to the benefit of both parties. Having a contract reviewed by an attorney is a small price to pay in order to reduce or eliminate potentially significant future risk or exposure.
Most of the agreements you sign will have been drafted by the other party, and therefore will tend to favor the interests of that party. An attorney can make sure your interests are also considered and protected, and can help explain, modify, or eliminate the confusing “legalese” which is often illegible to most normal humans. It is much easier and cheaper to address an issue before it becomes a problem. When it comes to signing a contract, this could not be more true, as there is often nothing that can be done to modify a signed agreement.
When entering into any transaction which involves a significant amount of money or time, it is best to have an agreement in place that has been reviewed by an attorney. Even if the other party does not offer a written agreement, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney to have an agreement drafted to document the transaction. Proper preparation beforehand can help to prevent significant headaches and unexpected consequences down the road.