Q: I need some basic contracts to use in my business. Do I need a lawyer to draw them up, or can I use templates I find online?
A: Dear Buster:
Though it may be tempting to use generic legal agreements you find online, these do-it-yourself (DIY) documents are no substitute for the services of an experienced lawyer. In fact, such forms can put your business at serious risk.
The only real advantage of DIY agreements is that they’re less expensive than hiring a lawyer. But is saving a few hundred, or even a few thousand, dollars really worth risking your business over?
Standard business agreements can appear basically identical, requiring you to simply input new names and numbers each time. But the details of each contract are of the utmost importance. More importantly, the context of the contract is what really matters. Poorly thought-out contracts can actually harm relationships and cost you a lot more than just money. On top of that, even the smallest mistake or omission can have significant consequences down the road if there’s a conflict. And without a legal background, you’ll have no idea what to look for to correct such errors.
Legal agreements are designed to protect your company’s most essential elements: your personal liability, trade secrets, intellectual property, and relationships. Are you really going to trust cheap, fill-in-the-blank forms to protect such vital components?
Look at it this way: Unless you’re an electrician, you certainly wouldn’t try to rewire your home’s electrical systems using instructions you find online, so why try to do the same with your business?
Whether you have contracts already in place that need a review or need to create entirely new legal agreements, using a Family Business Lawyer® can ensure your legal agreements offer you the most robust legal protection possible.