Drafting contracts is like writing a story. Legal is the genre of your story. Common practice and legal precedent are the framework that makes your story fall into the legal genre, but you have freedom to explore how you want to tell your story.
In any given contract, there may be a sub-genre, with elements that cause your story to be a part of the more specific grouping of similar stories (e.g., independent contractor agreements, buy-sell agreements, or software development agreements). Tell your story within the confines of the genre, and you have written a contract. After that, everything else is up to your creative imagination.
Of course, it isn’t always that simple. There are certain elements you need to make sure you include in the story of your agreement, but how you include those elements is up to you. Contracts, just like stories in any genre share similar characteristics, but are not required to look the same.
Your contract is the story of your deal. Your audience are those who come after you and want to know what it said.
It is important to make sure you cover the legal aspects of your story. To protect your business from liability. To ensure you are able to collect the money you are owed. But, those elements should not be used at the expense of your story. If your contract doesn’t describe your deal. If it doesn’t paint a picture of the relationship between you and your customers, you need to revisit it. Just because it sounds legal and it looks like other contracts you have seen, doesn’t mean it tells your story.
Whether you try to do-it-yourself or you work with someone to help you draft your contract, you should be fully invested in the development of your agreement. After all, it is your story. Make sure it is told your way. Of course, you should rely on advice and learn what should be included in your contract, but don’t sacrifice your story in the process.
See you next week,