Contracts – A Part of Everyday Life
Contracts are an inescapable part of every business and are at the intersection of every business transaction and relationship. Selling lollipops? Buy, sell or lease real estate? Hired an employee or contractor? Use software or internet services? Hired a cleaning company? Got a bank loan? Sent something off with the FedEx® guy? All are based on contracts.
Sometimes unwritten (shudder), sometimes poorly written, sometimes barely relevant, and sometimes waaay too long (does anyone other than us read those “click here if you agree” online agreements?)*, they are the foundation for almost every single transaction that takes place across the world billions of times a day.
When Things Go Wrong
Just as important, they can be the foundation for how two shouting, screaming, red-in-the-face former “business partners”—whether buyer and seller, lender and borrower, landlord and tenant or licensor and licensee—will resolve and wind up what started out as all smiles and sunshine. Worst case is when those former “chums” DON’T have anything written down, or they grabbed a form, filled in some blanks, and thought they had all they needed. A little law at the front end can save much grief at the back end; yes, we have war stories aplenty.
Supplier agreements, IT agreements, real estate leases, equipment leases, sales contracts, joint venture agreements, employment agreements—all critical, but let’s face it: they’re often boring, long and, frankly, not much of a joy to read, are they? No one loves contracts (well, we actually kind of like them)—until something goes wrong, and then everyone rushes to see what they have agreed to and how they can enforce their “deal”. There’s no joy for us when we have to tell a client they missed adding—or didn’t delete—critically important terms or that a client doesn’t have a remedy for a deal gone bad.
What We Do
It’s obvious: every business owner must pay careful attention to all the details of every contract. Actually, everyone should pay attention to all the documents they sign—business owner or not. We’ve worked on big contracts, and we’ve worked on small contracts. Each is important—the key is balancing time, money and effort at the front end appropriately with what the deal merits. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less—our job as attorneys is to inform our clients about the risks they face, use our judgment and experience to make sure what should be in the agreement is in there—and nothing that shouldn’t be there isn’t there.