As a lawyer, I see a lot of issues that come up in business deals. That is where a lawyer’s expertise in contract drafting happens. It comes in foreseeing issues that you might not think about or bringing out potential issues with a relationship to make sure we have covered all of our bases.
Your contract is designed to help you. We worked together to make sure we had covered the issues in the most effective way we could. We used your knowledge of your business and my expertise in the law to put together a contract that protects your business.
I cannot stress enough that your contract is a living document. Too often, I see clients who pay for a contract to be drafted, then go off and change something in their business without adjusting the legal language. Or at least fail to consider whether the contract needs to be adjusted. No matter how many issues we discussed about your business during the drafting process, it is always possible we missed something. If you need to update it because something happens you didn’t think about the first time we drafted it CHANGE IT IMMEDIATELY. If it happens once, it may happen again. If it was unclear, rewrite it. Contracts can’t be read in a vacuum, they must be applied to the facts surrounding the agreement, so it is possible you have some strange occurrence come up that may make you need to change it.
I do want to caution you to avoid a few of different ways you could take this too far:
Trying to cover every single possibility in your agreement
Your agreement is drafted to cover most of the possible contingencies. Some one-off issues that pop up may not be worth dealing with. Remember, this agreement is designed to be used over and over. It is part of your process. It is not going to cover all possibilities in the way a negotiated contract would. So, do not simply try to make changes every time you (or your client) thinks of an issue as it comes up. To cover some of those issues, you need to work on the tips I gave you last week about getting your contract signed the first time. If you make adjustments for every client, you will find it difficult to manage the relationships because you will forget what each contract says. That is one of the reasons it is so important to have a standard contract.
Ignoring Issues When They Are Major
If several clients ask a question that is not covered in your contract, it is possible, you should consider adding something to cover it. If you think of an issue that isn’t covered in your contract, you should consider an adjustment. Do not hesitate to make changes if they are necessary, but do not simply make changes because they seem to fit the circumstances.
Ignoring Deals that Are Different Than the Rest
Your agreement is designed to cover many different types of deals. If you have a deal that is special (or large) that needs some extra care or is worth making exceptions or changing it, consider that as an option. That is one of the reasons I work so hard to make sure you understand what is in your contract. That way you can know when something doesn’t quite fit.
A good contract is your friend. It keeps you out of court because people understand what it says. They know they can’t argue it says something different. Even if they think they can, a good lawyer, when the case is brought to him, will let your client know they should do what you have asked because the contract is so clear. You have a good contract. It is a contract that works for your business now. But, just like every other part of your business, it may be subject to change and should be reviewed regularly.